As any of you who have thru-hiked the AT know, Damascus is an important stop along the trail. Many of you probably used services at our library while you were here, such as Internet access, maps, and general guidance about town. And, you no doubt noticed how crowded the library is during Trail Days and the surrounding months. We are the busiest branch library in WashingtonCounty.
In addition to its obvious purpose, our library functions as a visitors' center since we don't have one in Damascus. However, it simply doesn't have the space for us to provide the services we would like to. Plans are in place to construct a new 6,500 square foot library, which will be located across Water Street from the town park [see link]. Conveniently, this is right off the AT—you won’t be able to miss it. As you can see on the plans, the new library will include a visitors' area that will have extensive information about regional recreational opportunities, area businesses, and the AT in general. In the new library, the number of computers available to the public will double (to 10), and there will be a wireless connection throughout the building. It will also have a lovely outdoor seating area and two sets of restrooms, one accessible from outside the building.
The estimated minimum cost for construction and site preparation for the new library is $900,000+; construction costs have gone up nearly 50% since the inception of the project. No budget has yet been set for the interior furnishings and fixtures,but we should know more after a meeting with the architect later this month. $450,000 of construction related costs funds are secure (thanks to the Washington County Board of Supervisors and the Virginia Tobacco Commission). Grants are pending for at least $400,000. If funding allows, we hope to use mostly locally-sourced materials and to incorporate as many energy-saving techniques in the construction as possible.
The Library Board helped organize a Damascus-based fund raising committee, of which I am a member. We are currently working on several projects to raise funds for the library, including a yard sale, a gas card raffle, and a cookbook of recipes comprised of recipes from community members. However, we will also depend heavily on individual and corporate donations.
Whether you are a past hiker who has used the library and enjoyed all that Damascus has to offer or someone who is planning to someday hike through, I ask that you please consider a donation to help fund the Damascus Branch Library. Hikers were and are a major consideration in planning and developing the library, and we would like to be able to provide a higher level of services to people who appreciate our town. All donations are tax-deductible, and you may contact me via a PM with any further questions. No donation is too small!
Current exterior and interior plans:
Please send donations to:
Damascus Fund Raising Committee
WashingtonCounty Library Foundation
205 Oak Hill St.
Checks should be payable to the WCPL Foundation – be sure to put “Damascus Project” in the memo.
Chair, Damascus Library Fund Raising Committee