Library celebrates 5 year anniversary during Saturday night bash

The Blount County Public Library was packed Saturday night, but nobody checked out a book. Instead, they enjoyed music, good food and good conversation as the library celebrated its fifth birthday.

The event started at Top of the Plaza on the sixth floor of Preservation Plaza where hors d’ouevres was served. Afterward, the approximately 100 guests walked down to the library via the pedestrian bridge that connects the building to downtown.

As guests mingled while at the party or while waiting in line at the library, they shared their thoughts on the library’s success. Director Cathy Pagles said the library has something for everyone.

"You don’t have to be a bibliophile. It’s a great place to relax. You don’t have be an intellect," she said. "We have a seat for everyone."

There was a lot of planning and work that went into the library. "It’s so much better than what we imagined," she said. "The building works well and we work well in it. It was a great investment."

Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said the library is a "crown jewel" of the community. Generosity and volunteerism brought the library together and made it a success. "Cathy Pagles is supreme in how she runs it," he said.

Rose Mary McCall with Asbury Place said the library reaches out to seniors. "Seniors do get lost in the shuffle. The library has done a real good job of keeping them in the forefront," she said. "It really has a huge impact on quality of life."

Bill Eanes, site dean for the Blount County campus of Pellissippi State Technical Community College, said the library helps people from all age groups gain access to information. "It gives to college students and anyone who wants to take advantage of a community library," he said.

State Rep. Doug Overbey said the library has become vital to the community. "I think it is a very important part of the overall "puzzle" of Blount County," he said.

Becky Swann said the new library has become one of the signature "towers" of downtown Maryville, along with Anderson Hall, the new Maryville Municipal Building and the Blount County Courthouse.

Will Carver, chair of the Library Foundation Board, said the library was an important aspect of the downtown revitalization. "The library was on the front end of the revitalization," he said.

Joan Van Sickle Sloan, library community outreach coordinator, said the facility allows guests to tap into what is happening in the overall world via the building’s resources and internet capabilities. "It’s more than just books," she said.

Blount County Commissioner Bob Proffitt said he has heard nothing but positive comments about the library. "It’s something that everyone is really proud of," he said.

Sumiyo Kamenori said she enjoys reading to children at the library. "I love books and children love them too," she said.
After dinner, the Maryville Kiwanis Club was honored as Champions of the Library for their fundraising efforts for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The 3-year-old initiative combines state government funding with private donations to give one hard-cover, age-appropriate book to each child in Blount County from birth to age 5.

Maryville Kiwanis president Mike Murrell accepted the award on behalf of his group. He said there are about 6,000 children from birth to age 5 in Blount County. "We’re at about 60 percent of our goal of getting all the children in Blount County," he said of ensuring all youngsters are signed up to get a free book each month.

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