“The Library is the center of the community” says Mary Sizemore, the director of Downtown High Point’s Public Library
by Forward High Point Intern JT Farabow
For Mary Sizemore and everyone else at High Point’s public library, being the center of the community doesn’t just mean physically. It’s true that the public library is right downtown and sits on High Point’s Main Street, but being the center of the community means much more to High Point’s public library.
“My staff and I have always been community oriented,” says Mrs. Sizemore. “We go out into the community to try and understand particular needs within our community, then we try to tailor our services to fit those needs.”
The library has a wide variety of services which help the community in some way or another- many of which people do not know about.
While Downtown’s library has the typical services you would expect from a public library such as reading services, research services and children services, there are additional services which exemplify their commitment to our downtown. One of those being the business center.
The library’s business center is a fantastic resource for anyone in High Point trying to start a small business. “We have three business librarians who work with individuals who are trying to start businesses,” says Mary Sizemore. “They help them with things such as demographic research, marketing and much more.”
The library also has a new and exciting teaching garden. This teaching garden, which can be seen on the North Elm St. side of the library, is a place that the library holds classes to teach people in the community the importance and skills of home gardening. “The focus is showing people that you can grow food in any place, whether its an apartment, a farm or even a tiny backyard,” Mrs. Sizemore says.
The teaching garden’s purpose is to tackle the food insecurity in the High Point community. The library works with The Greater High Point Food Alliance Excess and donates excess produce from the garden.
Since the global pandemic began in March, the library has changed many of its functions to continue serving the High Point community. The library has been closed to the public, and so much of their typical functions are not as they were.
“We use zoom to host book clubs. The children’s department has done online yoga classes and storytimes. Cooking demonstrations and other programs like the teaching garden have also been online,” Sizemore states. “We’ve actually had more participants in the teen summer reading club virtually than we’ve ever had in person, which is great!”
Librarians now offer to browse and pull books for you, based on personal interests and it’s now possible to get a library card online for the first time.
“Because of COVID, we hadn’t been able to spend money on a lot of things we would generally spend money on or had planned to, so this year we had some extra money that we could spend on video equipment. We now have a really sweet new studio and soundbooth,” explains Mrs. Sizmore. “We even got a new 3D printer which we hadn’t planned on, which is great.”
Mary and her staff at downtown High Point’s public library know what it is truly like to serve their downtown. Whether it’s helping tackle food insecurity or adding a new studio, sound booth and 3D printer, the library truly is the center of High Point’s community.
For more info on all things High Point Public Library visit: https://www.highpointnc.gov/749/Library