News & Events

Holiday Cheer Event a Success!



Daphne Maxwell Reid and Yvette Robinson look over donations. Wednesday evening, the Petersburg Library Foundation hosted a fundraising gala at New Millenium Studios. 

Hundreds attend event to raise money to build new library in Petersburg

By Patrick Kane
Progress Index Staff Writer     

PETERSBURG — Daphne Maxwell Reid didn’t want to hear any jingling pockets leaving New Millennium Studios last night — she wanted any loose penny going toward the construction of a new Petersburg Public Library. The Petersburg Library Foundation hosted a gala for hundreds of guests in order to fill the piggy bank.     

The goal of building a modern, 56,000-square-foot structure at the former Petersburg Ford site on West Washington Street is drawing close, boosters told a crowd gathered for dinner. Dr. Alvera Parrish, superintendent of Petersburg City Public Schools, shared her thoughts on how the new facility will assist the community.     

“The library is part of the dream as we’re going nowhere but” — pausing for the crowd to respond — “up!” Parrish said. “This new facility will play a pivotal role.”     

“One of the goals I have is to focus on early literacy,” she said, which can include anything from a baby handling a book to “a toddler who wants his favorite book read again and again.” Those experiences feed into student success when they reach kindergarten and move forward.     

“When you touch the life of a child, you change the future forever,” Parrish added.     

Parrish said the new facility would offer something for every age group, from babies to entrepreneurs to seniors.     

The library project is within reach, said the Rev. Andrew J. White Sr. White, who serves with Cindy Morgan, publisher of The Progress-Index, as capital campaign co-chair.     

“$3.1 million. That’s all we need,” White told the audience. “When we get that 3.1 million, we are in business. When I finish preaching, I usually take up an offering,” he said to laughs.     

The price has dropped to around $12.7 million from a previous estimate of $15-17 million thanks to lower construction costs. To date, the foundation has raised $7.4 million, including $5 million from the city. New Market Tax Credits will balance the books on the project’s cost.     

The foundation recently received a $250,000 boost in the form of a matching grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. That will turn $250,000 in public donations into half a million.     

Wayne Crocker said last night that the gala so happened to line up with his 30th anniversary as director of the Petersburg Public Library.     

“I cannot think of a better way to celebrate,” he said. Crocker said leaping from the 19th century William R. McKenney Library to a 21st century custom-designed structure will make people say, “wow” when they visit.     

“I hope you will see that the sky is the limit on what we can provide. The library visit will not be any old visit,” he said.     

Crocker explained that he has previously shied away from comparisons to the Appomattox Regional Library System Maude Langhorne Nelson Library in Hopewell or other projects.     

“This will be a special library, that you can say you had a hand in making it happen,” he said.     

“We have to teach our kids to enjoy the library,” said Bob Walker, chairman of the foundation board. He added that it is an investment not for this generation or this year but many years in the future.     

As the night wound down, guests were invited to take home a variety of books from the dining tables spread across the massive soundstage. Many took the opportunity to pass checks up to the foundation. Among those were Petersburg Police Chief John I. Dixon, who brought forth $250 from a recent fun run.     

Dr. Alvera Parrish, superintendent of Petersburg City Public Schools


Wayne Crocker, director of the Petersburg Public Library


Bob Walker, chairman of the board of the Petersburg Library Foundation


Sally and Mike Norkus flip through a book. Folks were invited to take home a variety of books at their tables as the Petersburg Library Foundation hosted a fundraising gala at New Millenium Studios.


Website Design By