Volunteers, donations help bring back library to Ash Flat

ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) – A group of dedicated volunteers succeeded in bringing a library back to the town of Ash Flat.

Construction began in 2010 to renovate the old fire department building into the new Ash Flat Library, which was completed less than a month ago.

"The first month we were open, we did a whole lot more business than we anticipated," Norvin Green said, "and it's been very well-received."

Volunteers, like Green, secured two grants totaling $300,000 to renovate the exterior. The City of Ash Flat gave $50,000 to cover more of the construction costs, while donations took care of the rest.

"I want to invite everybody to come and see it and enjoy it and help us get it going," Green said about the library, which is located on Arnhart Street in Ash Flat. "It's one of the newest libraries, and we have some of the latest technology."

The library is operated fully by volunteers, while the city covers the utilities, including wireless Internet usage. Green says the library is now the only building in Ash Flat to offer that service to the public, which people can access from at least nine computers.

Neighbors have also donated more than 6,000 books to fill the library's shelves, and volunteers say more donations come every day.

"I stopped here just a few minutes last Friday morning," said Ina Gill, a volunteer, "and there was a big delivery of books, two big bags of books, and another lady brought in an armload of books at the same time."

In addition to books, the library now offers a host of educational, fun activities for people of all ages.

The library received a grant from the Thea Foundation in Little Rock to create an art club for local kids. Volunteers have gotten a different local artist to work with the kids each month through the program.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to do this," said Royston Morris, a Cherokee Village-based painter. "I need something in my life right now to continue enjoying God's life. That, I certainly enjoy."

Morris gets to display some of his paintings too as part of a rotating gallery at the library.

Twice a month, guest speakers are also scheduled to provide insightful talks into various subjects, like history or art.

Volunteers say the library's function will evolve and has room to expand its operations, though anyone interested in donating time or materials is asked to call the library at 870-994-2658.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.