ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Gainsboro Branch Library is back open in Roanoke after several months of renovations, including new furniture, books, technology, and an updated teen and kids area.
On Tuesday, June 15, Roanoke Public Libraries held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to reopen the newly-renovated Gainsboro Branch Library.
“This renovation represents the City’s continued commitment to support the Library’s Master Plan to update and expand neighborhood branches that provide accessible services to the community,” the City of Roanoke said in a statement on Tuesday.
Since the Gainsboro Library’s renovation in 2009, the city has been renovating all of its library locations.
“We are proud of this project, and the value it brings to engage, educate, and empower the community for years to come,” said Mayor Sherman P. Lea.
The Gainsboro Branch Library, which originally opened in 1921, has historically been an important stakeholder in Roanoke’s Black community and is dedicated to providing resources so the community can commemorate the past and inspire the future.
Not only does this library branch house the largest collection of books on African-American Studies — named after former librarian Virginia Y. Lee — in southwest Virginia, but it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia State Landmark.
“Libraries are a key stakeholder in communities and are civic hubs that serve generations of families, offering unique and varied services and programming,” said Library Director Sheila Umberger. “We’re all so proud of the amazing upgrades this renovation has given this beloved library, which will continue to serve this community for many years.”
The events planned this week to celebrate the re-opening of the Gainsboro Branch Library are listed below:
- Café Night Program with live music and food at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 17.
- Juneteenth Celebration with a walking tour around the Gainsboro neighborhood — led by Jordan Bell, a local historian — at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 18.
- Lecture and Book Signing with author and former Mayor Nelson Harris about Roanoke’s Black history in the 1940s, based on the research for his book, “The Roanoke Valley in the 1940s,” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 24.
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