News & Events

Petersburg Public Library Wins Project of the Year

The American Public Works Association (APWA) Mid-Atlantic Chapter has recently selected the City of Petersburg’s Public Library for Public Works Project of the Year, for structures, $5 million to 25 million. The new library opened April 2014.

“I am excited about this recognition as it formally recognizes the new library as a true beacon in the Petersburg community,” said William E. Johnson, III, City Manager. “The library serves as a main resource in providing continuous efforts to grow participation in early childhood literacy, financial and computer literacy programs and fitness for seniors.”

Selection criteria included: good construction management techniques, safety performance, community relations, environmental resource safety and awareness, unusual accomplishments under adverse conditions and use of sustainable infrastructure.

“The project was designed utilizing the United States Green Building Council’s LEED rating system and this project received LEED Certification. This demonstrates the City’s commitment to create more livable and sustainable communities,” said Steven W. Hicks, Director of Public Works. “I am proud of the team’s approach in providing a quality facility that will serve future generations and honored that APWA recognized the City for this accomplishment.”

The Petersburg Public Library was a joint effort between the City of Petersburg Department of Public Works, Petersburg Public Library System, Enteros Design Architects and EDC Construction Company. The project has also been nominated for a national APWA Public Works Project of the Year award.

“The Mid-Atlantic Chapter commends the City of Petersburg for their hard work and dedication towards the completion of their project,” comments Donald J. Cole, 2015 APWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Awards Committee Chair.

Ettrick Neighborhood & Business Foundation Donates $10,000 to Library Capital Campaign

Ettrick Neighborhood & Business Foundation President Sterlin Hawkins and Vice-President Nancy Ross were on hand to view the final phases of construction on the new Petersburg library and present a check for $10,000 to the Petersburg Library Foundation (PLF). The Ettrick Neighborhood & Business Foundation’s mission is ‘dedicated in providing resources that will improve the overall quality of life to our Ettrick neighborhood.’

Pictured left to right: Bob Walker-PLF Chairman, Ann Taylor-PLF Vice-Chairwoman, Sterlin Hawkins, Nancy Ross & Wayne Crocker-PLF Secretary & Director of Library Services

Pictured left to right: Bob Walker-PLF Chairman, Ann Taylor-PLF Vice-Chairwoman, Sterlin Hawkins, Nancy Ross & Wayne Crocker-PLF Secretary & Director of Library Services

Library branch will close

Progress-Index: by F.M. Wiggins (staff writer)

PETERSBURG – At the end of the month, the Rodof Sholom branch of the Petersburg Public Library system will be closing in preparation for the move to the new library on the corner of Market and West Washington streets.

City Manager William E. Johnson III updated council on the plans to close the branch library in the Walnut Hill neighborhood on Aug. 31 as part of the continuing discussions on the course of the city during the annual City Council Advance at Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary.

The Rodof Sholom branch of the library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Construction on the new library began following a groundbreaking in April 2012.

The site of the new library, the former Petersburg Ford and more recently CrossRoads Ford, was purchased for $400,000 in 2006; six other sites had been considered before the selection was made.

Originally conceptualized as a 56,000-square-foot facility with a price tag of around $16 million, fundraising efforts began in earnest after the design was finalized in 2008.

Initial plans called for repurposing several of the existing buildings on the property. However, it was decided that for roughly the same price, a new library could be constructed from the ground up.

The current Phase I facility will be around 45,000 square feet and represents the majority of that initial concept, with the exception of the large multipurpose meeting room.

The new library is set to open by the end of the year.

– F.M. Wiggins may be reached at 804-722-5154 or fwiggins@progress-index.com.

Foundation featured on NBC Call 12

On July 31st from 5:00pm – 6:30pm the Petersburg Library Foundation (PLF) and the Petersburg Public Library were featured during the NBC 12 5pm news show. During the broadcast from 5:00pm-6:30pm Yvette Robinson, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Joe Preston and Cheryl Collins covered the Call 12 phones to promote the Brick Campaign and ask for pledges, or outright gifts to help raise the last $700,000 needed to successfully close out the Gateway to the World Capital Campaign. 

Click here to view spot:  petersburg library

Program combating illiteracy to have offices in new library

 

Cleve Wright, who is part of the effort to raise money for the new structure, says a new library would help fill a key educational need in the city. 'Education in Petersburg is so important and a new library would be a central point for kids and adults as well,' he said.

Cleve Wright, who is part of the effort to raise money for the new structure, says a new library would help fill a key educational need in the city. ‘Education in Petersburg is so important and a new library would be a central point for kids and adults as well,’ he said.

PETERSBURG – Milton Thorpe describes the more than four decades of his life spent not knowing how to read as “hiding behind the mirror.” When he finally decided to embark on his journey to literacy a year-and-a-half ago, he decided to face himself head on and “look through the mirror.”

Thorpe decided that things had to change. In a moment of desperation, he found out about the READ Center, his solution to the problem. The center for Reading and Education for Adult Development, helps Central Virginia adults to become literate.

“That same day I was praying, it came across the radio:the READ Center,” he said.

And when the new Petersburg Library opens this fall, the READ Center will have a home there. That will be a key tool in the city’s long-term plan to fight adult illiteracy, supporters say.

Thorpe used the READ Center to change a lifetime of not reading. The 49-year-old had received his high school diploma after spending much of his time in school in special education classes but never learned how to read. Thorpe said that he didn’t receive much help and encouragement from his teachers who identified him as having a problem but continued to promote him without the extra help he needed.

“I always thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t get it as fast,” he said.

Thorpe was raised by his grandparents, who did not have much formal education themselves, so they were not truly aware of his issues.

“They thought that if they sent you to school then you were getting it,” he said.

Throughout his adult life, Thorpe learned to excel while hiding his illiteracy from others. At his job as a tractor-trailer driver, he was promoted to a supervisory position. Thorpe would delegate clerical tasks to others, while he focused on skills such as maintenance that were weak points for others.

Thorpe plans on improving his literacy skills to obtain his master’s in theology. He is currently a minister at Now Faith that works Christian Center.

“I’ve done everything else and now, I will do this too. I’m going to get to where I need to be,” he said.

Thorpe can now read the Bible in front of his congregation without embarrassment. “Now if I get up and mess up, so what? I am still on my way,” he said.

Thorpe said that nothing about learning to read was shameful except for putting it off.

“The only shame that comes out of it is when you don’t do it,” he said. “When you sit on the couch and say ‘no’ – time is slipping.”

Thorpe now encourages other adults to take the first step of seeking help.

“I tell anybody that’s hiding behind the mirror that they will always live in torment,” he said.

The READ Center helps 300 adults annually to become literate. The organization has classes in Petersburg, Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Hopewell with tutors in Colonial Heights and Hanover. It was founded in 1982 as the Literacy Council of Metropolitan Richmond by Altrusa International of Richmond, a professional women’s business club and became a non-profit in 1984. The name was changed to the READ Center in 1995.

n Petersburg, the program currently holds classes at Tabernacle Baptist Church and the Salvation Army Education Center but will now have an office in the new Petersburg Public Library. Harriet Scruggs, executive director, said that the organization is weighing whether to close the two locations when the library opens. It is projected to do so in the late fall.

Aside from being a relevant fit with the mission to improve literacy, Scruggs said that the new location is surrounded by less stigma.

“Everyone going into the library can read,” she said. “They will be able to maintain their anonymity and make it possible to keep their secret from the rest of the world until they are ready to let it know they are struggling, if ever.”

She said the new library’s location on Washington Street across from the Petersburg bus station is convenient for students using public transit.

Scruggs also pointed out that the library has the added benefit of children’s programs and books that can entertain them while parents are in class.

“It’s a beautiful one-stop shopping center the whole family can experience,” she said.

Laura Schoolcraft, a READ Center teacher, said that the library also provided the most obvious: books and reference materials.

Students at the Hopewell program are required to hold a library card, which is something the READ Center is planning for Petersburg.

Schoolcraft said the library environment itself is enriching and opens people up to another world.

“People that don’t read well tend to have a small life,” she said. “It could be a movie shown or a knitting class that gets them out of their tight circle.”

As for the need of such a program in the Tri-Cities, the READ Center points to 2010 census data of adults without GEDs or high school diplomas as prime indicators of illiteracy. Petersburg has the highest number adults who do not have either a high school diploma or GED at 27.82 percent, followed by Hopewell at 24.44 percent.

Schoolcraft said that everyone has their own reasons for starting late. On average, her students are in their 40s with a range from 18 to 70.

Some say it’s their turn now after putting children through school. Others are grandparents raising their grandchildren who are at a loss as to how to help with homework.

But no matter the reason, each student has personal goals to work toward with a tutor and larger one’s to accomplish with the class.

Larger goals include learning how to use a checking account and how to address letters. They also build computer literacy with tasks such as how to type, erase and save documents.

As far as individual goals, many have received jobs or have been promoted. Some have obtained their driver’s license because they can now read the test. Others can read food labels in the grocery store to avoid certain products for health reasons. One woman learned to read the bus routes so she could transfer from Hopewell to Petersburg.

Despite the goal, Schoolcraft said the moment that each student gets it feels the same.

“There’s those aha moments where you’ve made a connection and they get it,” she said. “It’s when you’re explaining a spelling or phonics skill and they are not just mimicking back to you.”

– For information about the library project or how you can help, please go to the website of the Petersburg Library Foundation at www..petersburglibraryfoundation.org or call 804-733-2387 ext. 35

Laura Schoolcraft teaches an adult literacy class for the READ Center at the Salvation Army Educational Center. She is helping her students to read and interpret the meaning of the Star Spangled Banner. The READ Center will move its office to the new Petersburg Public Library and is considering movings its classes there as well.

Laura Schoolcraft teaches an adult literacy class for the READ Center at the Salvation Army Educational Center. She is helping her students to read and interpret the meaning of the Star Spangled Banner. The READ Center will move its office to the new Petersburg Public Library and is considering moving its classes there as well.

Progress-Index
Leah Small-Staff Writer

Website Design By