A Brief History of the Cove City -Craven County Public Library

by Elinor Hawkins, retired director of the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Reginal Library

In 1978, a group of interested citizens met to discuss the feasibility of establishing a public library in Cove City.  The response by the residents of the area was outstanding. The only available place to house the library was the storage closet in the Town Hall.

The Cove City library proposal was presented to the Cove City Town Board and the Craven County Board of Commissioners on December 4, 1978. Both boards approved the library project and appointed a library board.  The boards also approved the salary of a part-time librarian.  The member of the first Cove City - Craven County Public Library Board appointed were: Al Salt, Chairman; Letha Avery Hawkins; Merilyn McCoy; Nina White: Sudie Rhodes McConnor; Christine Mitchell; and Sidney French. 

Barbara Wiggins Avery was hired as the part-time librarian.  Bookshelves were built, a desk was given, and the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library provided the books.  The first library for Cove City, a branch of the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional Library, opened on May 7, 1979.  The dedication and open house was held on May 27, 1979. 

The library hours were Monday and Thursday, 2-8pm; and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 2-6pm.  The library provided reginal services, including a rotating book collection, magazines, reference service, interlibrary loan, story hours and a summer reading program. The regional extension librarian coordinated the library operation, and the bookmobile exchanged books every month.  The story hours and special library programs were held in the Town Hall meeting room. 

The "storage closet library" proved that a library was needed, used more than anticipated, and appreciated by all in the community --- but the space was too small!

Mrs. Avery continued to serve as the Cove City librarian until May 1984. Molly Massey, who had been substituting for about a year, was hired as librarian. Mrs. Avery reversed roles and became Mrs. Massey's substitute and was hired to do story hour specials throughout the region during the month of July. 

The board then hired Christine Mitchell to be assistant librarian.  Mrs. Avery remained as substitute and continued making bulletin boards once a month.  Ralph Potter was appointed to serve on the Library Board to replace Al Salt who died. Letha Hawkins became the Chairman of the Library Board.

Early in 1984, the Library Board recommended that the Fire Department equipment be removed from the Town Hall's backroom storage area, which was 522 sq. ft., so the space might be renovated for larger quarters for the library.  The Fire Department officials, the Cove City Town Board, and the Craven County Board of Commissioners agreed for the library to move to this area. 

The library moved to the completely renovated larger area in the Town Hall in the summer of 1984. The outside was made to look inviting with a porch at the entrance, and the interior was finished with around-the-wall shelving, new furniture, and carpet.  The open house for the new library was held on December 11, 1985 at 3:45pm, following the Christmas parade. 

Due to Christine Mitchell's health, Mrs. Avery returned in 1991 as assistant librarian. On June 7, 1993, the Library Board hired Nancy Chase as a second assistant. The two assistants shared the workload.  Mrs. Massey retired on October 31, 1997, and Mrs. Chase was hired as librarian. 

By 1999, the library had issued over 600 library patron cards, and the library was so crowded that there was no room on the shelves for books!  The new computers had to be placed in the library windows. During that time, Pam Wetherington was hired as a library assistant. 

The Friends of the Library was organized on November 4, 1999, to give the library board support in obtaining a larger building. Christine Ipock was elected president. Approximately 100 residents of Cove City and Western Carven County joined.  The Friends supported the Library Board by attending meetings of the Craven County Board of Commissioners concerning a new library building, sponsored barbecues, bake sales, book sales and other fundraisers.

Mrs. Wetherington resigned in October 2000, and on December 12, 2000, Becky Willis was hired as a library assistant. 

In 2001, the Fire Department was building a new Fire House, and the use of the old Fire House on North Main Street for a new library seemed to be the best option.  Under the able leadership of Ralph Potter, Chairman of the Library Board, negotiations with the county were started to obtain the old Fire House. After many months, the county purchased the building for $75,000, and the Harold Bate Foundation provided a $75,000 grant to renovate the building to serve as a library.

Peterson Architects was hired, and a beautiful library came to life. Additional support for development of the new facility was provided by the town of Cove City and the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret Regional library, under the leadership of Director, Jackie Beach and her staff.  In addition, the Havelock-Craven County Public Library generously donated shelving and furniture that they no longer needed to furnish our library. 

On May 18, 2003, at 3pm the new library building was dedicated with a large crowd attending. 

Since the dedication, many individuals and others have made major contributions toward completing the library project. The Dred and Charlton Mitchell families gave a land easement of the north side of the library. This resulted in making it possible for the Town of Cove City to remove the trees and tile the open ditch on that same side. Also, through an appropriation by the Craven County Board of Commissioners, the parking lot has been paved; marked; fenced; and lighting improvements made.  The Friends of the Library has provided gutters, drain piping, awnings, and relocation of a propane gas tank. 

Many, many hours spent working for a common goal by countless volunteer workers, staff members, Library Board members, and Friends of the Library members, made this library dream come true!

With sustained support and dedication, we are sure that our library will continue to meet the future needs of all those served in Western Craven County.