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 firstname.lastname@example.org