Collinsville Branch History
The Collinsville Library, located at 2540 Virginia Avenue in Collinsville, provides an open, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere, where visitors can browse books, videos, music CD’s, and newspapers, as well as use the computers. Having moved to the new location in December 2001, the library still has an air of newness. The staff maintains a friendly and helpful attitude to all who visit.
Collinsville Library has the distinction of being the first branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library to be established. In 1972, the library, located in the city of Martinsville, became a joint city-county operation and the name was changed to Martinsville-Henry County Public Library. In 1973 and 1974, it became evident that service would have to be expanded to accommodate the residents of Collinsville and the surrounding area. Nora Jenkins, Mattie Thornton of the Collinsville Literacy Society and others met with the Henry County Board of Supervisors to make an appeal for a library in the Collinsville area. In 1974, the Martinsville-Henry County Public Library received federal grant funds to develop countywide service and Henry County supplemented the grant with a large appropriation. The Collinsville Branch Library opened in a vacant storefront in the Collinsville Shopping Center on August 23, 1974. Because of this new branch library, the National Association of Counties cited Henry County for offering improved service to its citizens. The first three cards issued by the new Collinsville Branch were to Irene Snapp, Jack Dalton – both deceased, and to Nora Jenkins – who is still a regular and active patron of the Collinsville Library.
In January of 1992, the Collinsville Branch Library had become one of the few remaining tenants in the Collinsville Shopping Center. The location lacked visibility as well as space needed for the increased usage. On January 21, 1992, the Collinsville Library moved to a new location at 128 Virginia Avenue. The rented building was a former bowling alley. (The building had also housed a hardware store and a video store.) Needless to say, some unusual adaptations had to be planned and designed to create library space. This nearly doubled the size of the old location and offered easy access and visibility to the library.
By 1998, the Collinsville Library again had outgrown its space. Additional computers, shelving units, and increased materials had been added to offer full library service to the residents. Children’s programs were held in a small area at the back of the library amid the rows of shelves. Despite crowded and outdated conditions, the Collinsville branch consistently showed increased circulation and customer visits. After several options were explored, the Library Board of Trustees determined the most economical solution would be to relocate in a leased facility.
In May 2001, a space became available in the old Helig-Meyers Building. The Library Board instructed Branch Manager Sandra Shell and other library staff to plan the layout and design of the new facility and to oversee the remodeling project. From May to December, volunteers spent many hours doing the remodeling – from removing wall paper to painting to installing shelves to collecting empty boxes for the actual move. Thanks to many, many hours of volunteer work, the building renovation was completed by November. One special volunteer was Ralph Hubbard of Collinsville who spent many hours in the remodeling effort, from cleaning, to painting, to moving books, and many other tasks. His help was invaluable in Collinsville’s move to its newest location. Many aspects of the community became involved in the project: local businesses donated materials and man-power, financial contributions were received, individuals- volunteers and library staff -spent time working at the new location, and the Friends of the Library held special fund-raising events.
On December 8, 2001, the Collinsville Library’s opening ceremonies were held in its new building. The library is a large, open area with good lighting, easy access, and a comfortable setting. With almost three times the space of the former location, the facility has numerous computer stations, a special children’s reading area, a large meeting room available for public use, a small office area for tutoring, as well as offices and kitchen area for the staff. There are patron work tables, comfortable chairs, and many other comforts for users of the library. The Collinsville Library has been well received and used by the area residents.
Community is important to the staff of the Collinsville Library. Frequently, there are special programs held at the library for the public. One popular reoccurring event is the “History Day at Collinsville Library”. Held every four months, this is an opportunity for show and tell. People bring in items to display or to seek help on identification, or just to hear local history buffs discuss the history of the area.
Frequently there are special programs for children, such as the annual Fun Day held by the Collinsville Jaycettes. Also popular are the visits by the Martinsville-based baseball team. In addition, children’s story times are held each week, with stories, activities, and crafts.
Collinsville Library has an excellent area for art exhibits and displays. This has been a popular avenue for bringing in local artists and collectors. The exhibits are scheduled two months at a time, and there is usually a waiting list of potential exhibitors.
Current staff members include librarian and Branch Manager Sandra Shell. “I love my work. It is very rewarding to meet people and to offer assistance when needed. I am proud of the Collinsville Library and what it has to offer.” Collinsville is fortunate to have excellent staff members who exhibit a strong desire to assist the patrons and provide excellent service to the community. Regular volunteers have been a tremendous asset to the operations of the library and helping with the many responsibilities of circulation and services. The Friends of the Library have constantly been a supporting organization to the Collinsville Library with financial assistance, manual labor, and volunteers.
The Collinsville Library is a wonderful place to visit. The staff has as a priority to assist and help people. When asked why they like to work in a library, all the staff agree it is because they like to help people. Whether it is finding a book, or other information, or giving assistance at the computer, the staff finds it very rewarding to be able meet the needs of the patrons.