Cottageville Library to Open Saturday


Last Saturday Rhonda Kiepiec and Robin Horton tackled the last minute details — stocking shelves and getting everything ready for the May 12 grand opening of the Cottageville Branch Library. The ribbon will be cut at 11 a.m. and the library will be open until 5 p.m.

The branch library, located on Sally Ackerman Drive behind the Cottageville Police Station, will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kiepiec, a Cottageville resident, has been hired as the branch’s librarian, Horton, who lives in Walterboro, joins her as the assistant librarian. Asked if she’s ready for the grand opening, Kiepiec said, “I can’t wait. I am passionate about this project.”

“I was not aware this was a project in the making until my neighbor showed me an advertisement,” Kiepiec said. She has lived in Cottageville for 25 years and faced the same difficulties the other residents have in living without a nearby library. “I faced a tough time getting my kids to Walterboro. It is not that far, but all our business took us in the other direction.”

“I think this is going to be particularly valuable for our Cottageville youngsters,” she said. Colleton Memorial Library Director Carl Coffin explained that the possibility of opening a branch library in Cottageville has been a topic of discussion for years. “It has been on the table for a very a long time,” Coffin said. “There was always one delay after another. Finally, we are able to get this done.”

Horton, who recently moved to Walterboro, offered her own slant on waiting. “I’ve waited my whole life. I am a librarian by trade, I have worked in university libraries but I’ve always wanted to work with kids in a public library.” She remembers her own great childhood experiences from visits to the public library. She can remember sitting through story time at the library and saying to herself, “I want to do that.” Now she gets her chance to lead story time at the Cottageville Branch Library and hopes to see a sea of young faces watching her fan their imaginations. “I did not realize how many families with young children are here.” Horton previously worked as a librarian at Furman University and the University of South Carolina.

Kiepiec is also a professional librarian — she works full time as the media librarian at Goose Creek High School. “We are very fortunate to have the two professional librarians for Cottageville. The way it worked out was just a blessing,” Coffin said.

Kiepiec and Horton are ecstatic that they have a role in establishing a new library. “That’s the most exciting thing a librarian could ask for,” Horton said. “It will only be open on Saturdays for the foreseeable future. I’m hoping that in the future we can expand hours, but right now it is only going to be open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Coffin said. “We will see how it goes, see how the community responds to it.”

The building that houses the police station in the front and the library in the back was where Cottageville Elementary School’s kindergarten started its academic life when the school was on Sally Ackerman Drive. The Cottageville Branch Library is the result of a partnership between the library and Cottageville. The Town of Cottageville came up with money to take care of the facility — paying for a new floor, renovating the bathroom and new interior paint. The town will also be responsible for maintaining the building.

The library covers the cost of hiring the staff and providing the collection and computers. Coffin said the addition of a new branch library will require an allocation of between $10,000 and $15,000 in the library’s annual budget. “We have some generous donors,” Coffin said. “Between the Friends of the Library and the Stony Point Foundation, a couple who lives in county, we were able to purchase supplies, the books and hire the personnel to get this thing going. Without their help, this would not be happening.”
The Cottageville town officials have set aside two rooms in the building for the branch library.

One room will contain the books, DVDs, CDs, computers and everything else a library needs. The other room will be the library’s program room where the branch library can conduct story times and programs for adults. “It is a small community branch,” Coffin said, “but it basically provides everything offered here (the main library.” The branch library will have about 2,500 books on the shelves. The main library has over 100,000. Coffin said Cottageville is going to have “a good balanced selection.” There will be DVDs, books on CD, large print books, best sellers, fiction and non-fiction. There will books for adults, young adults and children.

If a library visitor is looking for a specific book not on the shelves, they will be able to go on-line at the library and reserve it. When the book is available, either through the main library’s collection or through S.C. Lends, the state-wide consortium of libraries, it will be brought to the branch library. “I think the community is going to be happy with their little library,” Coffin said.