Martin Clark, author of The Jezebel Remedy.

Martin Clark, author of The Jezebel Remedy.

Local author and judge, Martin Clark is having an auction on Facebook to help raise money for the bookmobile fund.  Martin will match the highest bid up to $1500.

(Click on the link at the end of this post to bid.)

Happy Bidding!

KEEP THE BOOKMOBILE ROLLING: (CURRENT HIGH BID is $250.) The Patrick County Public Library is raising money to replace the bookmobile. Deana and I are auctioning off the following items—as one lot—to help with the effort: 1) a signed, immaculate first edition of the late Pat Conroy’s MY READING LIFE (estimated value $100); 2) a signed Dale Earnhardt, Sr. hat (estimated value $125); 3) a signed ZZ Top poster (estimated value $40); 4) a signed copy of Darrell Waltrip’s book DW: A LIFETIME GOING AROUND IN CIRCLES (estimated value $45); 5) a framed, original, and absolutely beautiful Greg Arens painting (estimated value $225); 6) signed copies of my four books (value $75); 7) a really cool 1:24 scale collectible Wood Brothers 21 HOF car signed by the four original Wood Brothers (two of whom are HOF), Len Wood, Eddie Wood and Trevor Bayne (estimated value $300); and 8) a galley of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK with an authenticating note from the publisher FS&G (estimated value: unknown. This is a unique and very valuable item—the book was made into an Academy Award winning film.). Please enter a bid below, and again, it’s one bid for everything—we can’t separate the items. Once the winner donates the money directly to the library, we’ll deliver the eight items to you, and then Deana and I will match the winning bid up to $1500 with our own donation. The auction is open until next Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 9:00 PM EST. Happy bidding and thanks for helping.


Items for auction

Items for auction


We recently received this wonderful letter along with a donation to the bookmobile fund.  This library patron was using our bookmobile service over sixty years ago!

From a 77 year old fan:

I cannot remember a time during my early childhood when my sister and I were not read to by our parents, our grandparents and other family members.  The written word, read aloud, was a magical thing- the doorway to other worlds beyond our small country village upbringing.  Our father also liked to take my sister and me to the library in Stuart where he would choose books for his own reading as well as for us.

When we entered school, we could already read, or nearly so. One of the most exciting things that happened at school were the periodic visits of the bookmobile.  What a wonder it was- the library actually came to us!  It was a treat to pick out books to read for myself; how grownup I felt. "Miss Lady" Clark made a wonderful impression suggesting and helping to choose books she thought we children might enjoy.  Those bookmobile visits remained important all through my school years.  We had books at home, but the bookmobile expanded our choices even further.

Today the bookmobile serves whole communities that it visits.  What riches it brings in many forms- a wealth of knowledge, ideas, possibilities.  May our bookmobile service never cease.


The spread of knowledge through the mobility of books

Bookmobiles enjoy a rich history of providing "knowledge on wheels" and
"food for thought" to young and older readers alike, especially in rural
areas of America, Virginia and Patrick County. Much of my early
curiosity about the world beyond my own rural community stemmed from the
Patrick County Library's "welcomed wagon of books."

In my formative years, when my brother, Larry, and I lived at our
paternal grandparents' farm on Route 8, North of the County Seat of
Stuart, legend has it that our grandparents' home was the only private
residence where the Library's Bookmobile stopped for book checkouts, so
great was the number of books checked out on a monthly basis.
Apparently, there was a limit placed on the number of books checked out
by one individual on a monthly basis, so I enlisted my brother and a
friend to check out books that I wanted to read beyond the limit.  The
then librarian and bookmobile driver was the angelic Miss Lady Louise
Clark, who I've always suspected smiled and looked approvingly the other
way at such a voracious appetite for books. I've never forgotten that
experience of many years ago and the importance of public investments in
libraries and bookmobiles.

Years later, when I was serving as Governor of Virginia,  I made an
early, personal, financial contribution when plans were announced to
build a new Patrick County Library; and it was a pleasure to speak later
at the dedication of the County's new "temple of knowledge" and to
donate a world globe as a symbol to young readers that one can travel
the world through books without ever leaving home.

I still visit the County's Library and Museum occasionally when I'm
"back home." Perhaps on my next visit, I can "check out" the new

Under separate cover, I am sending my check in gratitude, and to support
the local efforts to purchase a new bookmobile for a new generation of

With kindest regards, I am

Gerald L. Baliles
Governor of Virginia (1986-90)

A New Story: Holland named Martinsville Library manager

HOLLY KOZELSKY-December 7 2016-   MARTINSVILLE BULLETIN  – Cecil Holland’s driving days are done.

Not only did she used to drive the bookmobile for the Stuart Branch Library – but she had to drive all the way from Martinsville to do it. Now as the branch manager of the Martinsville Library, she is just around the corner from her house.

She started as a library custodian in 1996. She became the assistant branch manager of the Ridgeway Library before going to the Stuart branch.

“I literally worked my way up” through the library system, Holland said. “We’re Blue Ridge Regional Library, and I’ve been across the libraries and seen it all,” she said.

She is where she wants to be.

“I’ve always loved libraries,” she said. “I’ve always been a reader. When we had mills, I used to work at Fieldcrest.”

She worked in the spinning department, which meant every half hour checking that the looms were operating correctly. When all were, it only took five minutes, leaving 25 minutes to read. She’d average a book a night, she said.

Reading is the gateway to much in life, she said: “If you can’t ready, you can’t do much of anything.”

She and her husband, James, have two daughters. Telisa Holland works at The Friends Home in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Lorisa Holland is a headhunter and artist in Seattle, Washington.

Though she spends her day in the library, she might be turning her home into one too, with the books she buys.

“My husband gets on me: ‘You work in a library. Why do you buy books?’” she laughed.

Some of her favorite fiction books have included the Harry Potter series, “The Girl on the Train” and books by Nicholas Sparks and Liane Moriaty. She recently finished reading “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lepena. “It really makes you think,” she said.

Her advice to getting children to read, and to enjoy reading, is simply to start them young – “and they will love it” their whole lives, she said.

Having young children visit the bookmobile was “the most fun” part of her job there, she said. Children generally were excited to visit it, especially during their first times.

“The people on the Bookmobile (route) were so passionate about the Bookmobile,” she said. “I want people in Henry County, Patrick County and Martinsville to be excited about their library.”

Her duties with the Bookmobile included reading reviews to order books. For some, she didn’t even need to bother with reading reviews – “‘Frozen’ was so big on the Bookmobile I tried to get every ‘Frozen’ book that came out,” she laughed.

The increasingly common use of the internet has taken its toll on books, she said. She can remember when there used to be three staff members working at a time in circulation, and a line in front of each. Now it’s common to see only one or two staff members and patrons at a time at the desk.

“The library offers a lot of stuff (besides books), and I’m not sure if people realize that:” DVDs, recorded music, learning kits for children, toys for toddlers, audiobooks, e-books and even fishing gear can be checked out. There also are play areas for children, as well as story time and other activities. “We have a great reference librarian, Randy Glover. He can find answers” to any questions people ask him, she added.

Holland said she would like to see it as a place where people share their crafts, either through demonstrations, displays, classes or simply regular gathering times, where they use a meeting room to work on projects together.

She also envisions having more programs sponsored by the library. “I would like to see programs that are working really well at the other branches come to each community,” she said.

“They say we’re like a community center now … and I think that’s a good thing, to get people together to share” their knowledge and abilities.

Her first actions as manager included to organize some deep cleaning. That started with the women’s bathroom, which she said she had noticed had a very bad permanent odor and needed to be tackled with some serious cleansers.

Next, she’ll look into coordinating some programs, including a recipe exchange.

“I want it to boom,” she said. “I want people to know that this is their community thing.”

Holly Kozelsky reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at holly.kozelsky@martinsvillebulletin.com

Cecil Holland, former Bookmobile Coordinator at the Patrick Library is now the Branch Manager at the main branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library.  Congratulations, Cecil!

Cecil Holland, former Bookmobile Coordinator at the Patrick Library is now the Branch Manager at the main branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library.  Congratulations, Cecil!


Ben R. Williams

On Tuesday, I headed up to the Patrick County Library to do a story on the library’s fundraiser for a new bookmobile to serve the more far-flung parts of the county.

While I was interviewing my friend Garry Clifton, the branch manager at the library and a former bookmobile driver, he said something that stuck in my brain.

“Every reader can tell the story of the book that got them excited,” he said. “When they were a child in first, second, third or fourth grade, something ignited that interest in reading. That’s why the bookmobile is at the schools.”

I love books, and I well remember the first book that got me excited about reading.

Before I could even read, I was obsessed with books. I remember insisting that my mom read me “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle over and over again. It was a Bassett Library copy, and I checked it out so often that it probably spent more time at our home than in the library.

Then, of course, there was “The Bang Bang Family,” written and illustrated by famed weird cartoonist Gahan Wilson, whose work I still love dearly. “The Bang Bang Family” told the story of a ghoulish-looking family who were incapable of doing anything quietly. They bang-banged down the stairs and bang-banged the front door open and bang-banged their way to school and work. At the end of the book, after the Bang Bang Family have finally gone to bed, a mouse pokes his head out of hole in the baseboard and mutters, “Thank goodness that’s all over.” It was a killer punchline.

I made my dad read that one to me so often that, fearing for his sanity, he began hiding it around the house in hopes of having just one night where he didn’t have to read the phrase “bang-bang” 237 times (I always found it, though).

But the big one came when I was in first grade. I had only been reading on my own for a year or so, maybe less, and I decided it was time for a challenge.

While I was at the Martinsville Library, I checked out a copy of “Pet Sematary” by Stephen King. It was a hardback with the original artwork, probably a first edition. It may still be on the shelf today.

I expect the cover drew me in, a great piece of hand-painted artwork featuring the face of a hissing, green-eyed cat, and above the cat’s head, a shadowy figure carrying a body into a cemetery. I had probably also seen the commercials for the Stephen King Library that used to run on TV constantly in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (sign up today for a free glow-in-the-dark skeleton keychain, yours to keep, no matter what!).

I loved “Pet Sematary.” I read it at home, and I carried it with me to first grade every day so I could read it whenever I had some downtime. It probably took me two months to finish it – I hadn’t been reading too long, so a 400-page book was a major hill to climb – but the day I finished it, I took it back to the library and checked out another Stephen King book.

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Hickson, saw how much I loved Stephen King, and she brought me a bunch of King paperbacks from home. I was thrilled.

I found out years later that another teacher once asked Mrs. Hickson why on earth she would encourage me to read such horrible, frightening things. She told that teacher that when you see a first-grader enthralled with reading, you encourage them, no matter what it is they want to read.

King was my gateway drug into the world of books. His books showed me the power of writing, and while I was still in elementary school, I started writing my own (terrible) horror short stories. Eventually, I got (marginally) better at writing, and I branched out into new authors.

If you trace the thread all the way back, you could argue that if it hadn’t been for that dog-eared copy of “Pet Sematary” in the Martinsville Library, I might have never decided to pursue a degree in English, and I might not have ended up in my chosen career path.

One thing is certain: It’s important to encourage young people to read, and they’ll never fall in love with reading if they don’t have easy access to books.

And so, after this Stephen King-style long-winded tangent, I encourage everyone to consider making a donation to the Patrick County Library Bookmobile Fund at patrickcountybookmobilefund.org.

I also encourage the bookmobile coordinator to add a copy of “Pet Sematary” to the shelves. It still holds up.

Ben Williams writes for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at benjamin.williams@martinsvillebulletin.com

Ben R. Williams reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at benjamin.williams@martinsvillebulletin.com

Keep Reading Rolling: Bookmobile needs community support


The Martinsville Bulletin

Ben R. Williams

STUART-In order to “keep reading rolling,” the Patrick County Library Bookmobile will need a little help from the community.

On Tuesday, the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation launched a fundraising campaign to purchase a new Patrick County Library Bookmobile to replace the current vehicle.

Garry Clifton, who is branch manager at the Patrick County Library and a former bookmobile driver, said that they wanted to begin the fundraiser on “Giving Tuesday,” the global day of giving that falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

“We thought it would be a great day to kick off our fundraiser and get the word out,” Clifton said. “One of the goals we’ve had for a long time is to have a webpage for the bookmobile fund, because up until (Tuesday), if you wanted to donate to the fund, you had to come by the library or mail in a check. Now, you can go on our website, hit our ‘Donate Now’ button, and you can donate online.”

The new website – patrickcountybookmobilefund.org – is now live, although those who prefer to donate in person or mail a check are still able to do so.

While the fundraiser formally began Tuesday, the bookmobile fund started in 2005, Clifton said. Glen Bryant, a former bookmobile patron, passed away unexpectedly that year, Clifton said, and at his funeral, his wife told those in attendance that if they wanted to donate to a cause her husband was passionate about, they should donate to the bookmobile.

The library received $140 in donations that day, Clifton said, and thanks to fundraising efforts from other library supporters, private donations, and a memorial fund for former bookmobile driver Bill Staples, the fund currently stands at $31,000.

However, Clifton said, there’s still a long way to go. The Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation hopes to raise a total of $175,000 by June 30 – the end of the fiscal year – to put in an order for a new bookmobile. Because the vehicles are heavily customized, Clifton said, it’s impossible to buy a new bookmobile for any less.

“We have funds to keep the service going, to pay the driver, to buy materials and maintain it, but we did not have any money set aside to buy another vehicle, so that’s the reason we started the fund,” Clifton said.

According to Betty Scott, treasurer of Friends of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System, the customization also makes it difficult to find people who are able to service the current bookmobile, and that’s a problem. After nearly two decades on the road, the current bookmobile needs more TLC than ever before.

“It really hit home for a lot of people this summer,” Clifton said. “We had a mechanical problem that could not be fixed easily. The vehicle was at a shop in Greensboro for two months. I think it became real for people. This is an aging vehicle. It’s 18 years old. It’s getting harder to find parts, and it’s getting harder to find people that will work on it.”

Rick Ward, director of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System, said that the mechanic they took the bookmobile to remarked that he had only seen one similar vehicle in his whole career. Unfortunately, Ward said, that vehicle was the Patrick County Bookmobile; they had taken it to the shop years earlier and the mechanic had forgotten.

“The importance of the bookmobile can’t be stressed enough,” Ward said. “We’re a large county, and it can take you 30 minutes to get from here to some of the areas of the county, like Ararat or Woolwine or Meadows of Dan. Elderly patrons, especially, have a hard time getting here, and we want to make sure that library service is available to the entire county. We go to all of the elementary schools and supplement their collections. It’s just something we feel very strongly about, and the people of Patrick County feel very strongly about as well.”

Some years ago, when Ward was still manager of the Patrick County Library, he said that he spoke at a Patrick County Board of Supervisors meeting on behalf of the library because the county was considering cutting library funding.

Unbeknownst to Ward, a rumor had gotten out in the community that the county was going to specifically cut funding to the bookmobile, and the pastor at Trinity Christian School spearheaded an effort to prevent the cut. He arrived at the supervisors meeting with a petition to save the bookmobile, signed by about 300 Patrick County residents.

“I was just stunned,” Ward said.

Janet Demiray, chair of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Board of Trustees and also a member of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation Board, said that among the many different sites that the bookmobile visits to bring library materials to all of Patrick County, it also visits every single elementary school in the county and fills in the gaps in their libraries.

“We’re able to bring in new materials and rotate them around so that the children have access to lots of interesting materials and age-appropriate materials,” she said. “I think people support the library and value the library and the bookmobile, but we never think about how it’s funded and that you have to keep asking for money every year from our local government to keep it running. This is something that we need to keep reiterating. … The library system is a positive for our communities, but the library system depends on the taxpayers and our local government for the bulk of its support.”

To that end, on Tuesday morning, Demiray made a $5,000 donation to the bookmobile fund, saying that she would not have had her successful career had it not been for the Patrick County Library.

Tammy Cope, Patrick County Bookmobile Coordinator, said that all anyone needs to do to see the value of the bookmobile is watch the young folks swarm the vehicle when it rolls up to their elementary school.

“The best part for me is the kids, their excitement when they engulf the bookmobile,” she said. “They have to find the perfect book. When they bring it to the front and check out, the smile that they leave with, that makes it worth everything we’re doing.”

To donate to the Patrick County Library Bookmobile Fund, visit patrickcountybookmobilefund.org and click on the “Donate Now” button. Checks can be made out to the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation Inc. and mailed to Patrick County Bookmobile Fund, P.O. Box 787, Stuart, Va. 24171.

The Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation Inc. is a tax-deductible non-profit organization.

Ben R. Williams reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at benjamin.williams@martinsvillebulletin.com

Pictured from left to right, Diane Adkins, Patrick County Bookmobile Fundraising Committee; Betty Scott, Treasurer of Friends of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System; Linda Wilson, Treasurer of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Board of Trustees and Chair of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation; Garry Clifton, Patrick County Library Branch Manager and former Bookmobile driver; Rick Ward, Director of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System; Tammy Cope, Patrick County Bookmobile Coordinator; Janet Demiray, Chair of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Board of Trustees and also a member of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation Board.

Pictured from left to right, Diane Adkins, Patrick County Bookmobile Fundraising Committee; Betty Scott, Treasurer of Friends of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System; Linda Wilson, Treasurer of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Board of Trustees and Chair of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation; Garry Clifton, Patrick County Library Branch Manager and former Bookmobile driver; Rick Ward, Director of the Blue Ridge Regional Library System; Tammy Cope, Patrick County Bookmobile Coordinator; Janet Demiray, Chair of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Board of Trustees and also a member of the Blue Ridge Regional Library Foundation Board.


       The Friends of the Library had their fifth Book Sale at the Patrick County Library on Saturday, October 8 2016. We raised another $1300 for the Bookmobile Fund! To date, the Friends have donated over $6500 to the Bookmobile Fund. We would like to thank the Friends for their continued support! 

         This was our best one day total so far.  We would like to thank everyone who came out on a rainy, windy day to support our library and bookmobile.

         Our next sale will be March 18, 2017.  Mark your calendars!


Friends of the Library members Betty Scott and Mary Campbell Stromire

Friends of the Library members Betty Scott and Mary Campbell Stromire

New Patrick County bookmobile arriving more slowly than hoped

STUART – Patrick County’s bookmobile, “Booky,” is still rolling up and down the mountain. However, no one knows for sure how much longer it will last.

A service offered by the Patrick County branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library, the current bookmobile is 18 years old. The vehicle has been in and out of the auto shop for repair in recent years, leading the library to raise funds for a new one.

Garry Clifton, the library’s branch manager, said that a more reliable bookmobile would cost approximately $175,000.

While the cost may seem high, Patrick County would not be the same without the custom-built library on wheels, a staple in the community for the past 60 years.

“People love the library, but they’re fascinated about the bookmobile,” Clifton said.

Cecil Holland drives Booky all over Patrick County – from Ararat to Meadows of Dan. She stops at public elementary and middle schools and one private school once every two weeks. She also visits churches, fire stations, banks, and Robert’s Market.

“One little boy walked in and said, ‘I wish this was my classroom,’” Holland said.

Holland enjoys seeing the looks on community members’ faces whenever they board the bookmobile – for the first or hundredth time.

“The adults love it just as much as the kids,” Holland said. “They love to check out books. They get so excited when it’s bookmobile day.”

People in Patrick County are emotionally attached to the 3,000-book-hauling machine.

“When the bookmobile breaks down, they’re mad and sad,” Holland said.

When the bookmobile experienced issues and entered a repair shop, Holland took action. She packed stacks of books in her vehicle and hit the road.

“I drove my car up the mountain when [Booky] broke down for two months. I drove to Ararat, to Woolwine,” Holland said.

Clifton, who drove Booky and two prior Patrick County Bookmobiles for 20 years, attributed the passion of the driver to the people who faithfully fill the bus.

“At the time I started, there were two bookmobiles in the Blue Ridge Regional Library system, one for Patrick and one for Henry County. The two bookmobiles were Ford Econoline RVs that were made into bookmobiles,” Clifton said. “I drove the Patrick County bookmobile for a little over two years and as it wore out traveling up and down the mountains, the Henry County bookmobile service was coming to an end. There were now three library branches in Henry County and the main branch in Martinsville. A bookmobile was no longer needed in Henry County. We were given the Henry County bookmobile to use and the library began to plan to buy a new vehicle.”

In 1998, after two years of planning and nine months of building, Booky hit the road. The bookmobile brought the library to the people – and the people to each other.

“In a library, you might say ‘hi’ to someone as they come through the door. Then they look on their own. On the bookmobile, it’s very personal. You’re not farther than 15 feet away. You have conversations,” Clifton said.

Besides the friendships formed on the bus, people also visit for new releases.

Clifton said about the bookmobile’s collection of books, DVDs, magazines and audio books changes every few months. Typically, Clifton and Holland switch older books out for newer material every 90 days.

While the brick and mortar library holds more books, the bookmobile’s compact size allows for a more streamlined selection of newer titles. Holland always displays a list of new releases and upcoming release dates.

Although Booky brings a smile to those it serves, the current bus will not roll forever.

“Especially when we go up to Meadows of Dan, I have to talk to it. ‘Come on, Booky. You can make it,’” Holland said.

Going up the mountain, Booky’s speed tops out at 18 miles per hour – one mile for every year it’s been on the road. On hot summer days, the generator cannot effectively power the air conditioner. In the 1990s, it suited the library’s needs. In 2016, Clifton sees the need for a new vehicle.

“We’re going to get a bookmobile. We just want it to be sooner rather than later,” Clifton said. “Currently, we have around $25,000 in the fund.”

This Saturday, the Friends of the Library will host its fifth bi-annual book sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the library in Stuart to raise funds for a new bookmobile.

Clifton said that people in Patrick County give generously at the sale.

“If they know it’s something specific, like the bookmobile, sometimes they’ll give us $10 for a $7 purchase,” Clifton said. “If it’s $15, they might give a $20 bill and say, ‘Keep the change.’”

While the first book sale brought in $800, $500 more than expected, each sale since has raised at least $1,000.

Generally, paperback books cost 50 cents and hardbacks sell for a dollar. Books with known value cost more, but are still not astronomically priced.

“There are going to be thousands of books,” Clifton said.

However, donors do not have to wait for the book sale.

Donations can be made by check or money order and made out to The Bookmobile Fund – Patrick County Library and addressed to The Patrick County Library – Attention Bookmobile P.O. BOX 787 Stuart, Virginia, 24171.

For more information about the bookmobile fund or upcoming book sale, call the library at (276) 694-3352.

Amie Pickeral reports for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at amie.pickeral@martinsvillebulletin.com

A lifelong love of reading

“If it had not been for the Bookmobile, I may not have read so many wonderful books, I may not have declared an early love for reading, I may not have become an English teacher, and I may not have passed my love of reading on to my niece, nephew, and many students during my          career.”

“The Bookmobile is an invaluable treasure to the citizens of Patrick County.”


Wyshona Lawson