Fontana Regional Library celebrates its 75th anniversary this summer, honoring the library’s humble beginnings in 1944, when the Tennessee Valley Authority sponsored a regional bookmobile to visit the most remote areas of Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties.
Seventy-five years on, Fontana Regional Library is proud to fulfill its mission to “provide the public of Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties with excellent service and convenient access to resources for their educational, informational, and recreational needs.” This means that today, Fontana headquarters and the staff at six member libraries in Franklin, Highlands, Cashiers, Sylva, Bryson City, and Topton coordinate a wide range of services, programs, and activities for residents of all ages.
To celebrate this 75th birthday, FRL will spend the rest of this year collecting stories from patrons about how and why the library has been important to them and their families. “75 Stories for 75 Years” will capture the best of library history and the stories of library patrons, while inviting donations to the campaign to raise $75,000 for library services by the end of 2019.
So much has changed, and so much has stayed the same over the last 75 years. Books have always been at the heart of the library’s mission, and always will be. But reading now includes eBooks, audiobooks, and eAudiobooks, which are all available at the library or through the library’s website. Music CDs, DVDs, and streaming video are also popular resources. Today, people need more from a library than anyone could have imagined back in 1944. The internet and computers weren’t even on the horizon for the general public 75 years ago, but today, many people rely on Fontana Regional Library for internet access and one-on-one technology help for everything from laptops to smartphones.
With all the information and technology that is now available, Fontana Regional Library offers services that are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the public. Even storytimes for children have evolved in new and exciting ways. Today, youth activities include math, science, and art for ages from toddlers to teens. But the emphasis on reading and learning never changes.
What is your favorite library service or memory from the last 75 years? Tell us at 75Stories@fontanalib.org or fill out a postcard at your local Fontana Regional Library location. To see a list of 75 services the library currently offers, or for more information about how to become a supporter, click HERE.
The first public library in Jackson County opened in Sylva in 1928, and while the Fontana Regional Library board held meetings there as early as 1944 to discuss bookmobile service, it wasn’t until 1954 that the first regional library agreement was signed, formally including the brick-and-mortar libraries in Jackson County (Sylva), Macon County (Franklin), and Swain County (Bryson City). The Hudson Library in Highlands, founded in 1884, became a member in 1973, the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library joined when it opened in 1994, and Nantahala became a member in 1986. The Reading Rover is today’s bookmobile, which serves childcare centers in Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties.