This year’s Library Annual Meeting on May 10th at 6:00 is going to be an outdoor party, at the library back porch. We are giving our hard working staff and volunteers a big thanks for all they do to keep our Craig County Library thriving. Letha Persinger, the Library Director, works with her staff, Alex White and Jessica Hunt, to provide for the changing needs of our patrons. As part-time staff, volunteers are critical for the ongoing operations. Aside from the members of the board, there are nine devoted volunteers who help fill in needed gaps. The nine are Linda Calderon, Marge Lewter, Martha Dillard, Kathi Toelke, Lee Greiser, Martha Adams, Anita Martindale, Tom Spence and Gavin Shires. Their time is committed to financial record keeping, mowing the lawn, keeping the county informed, manning the front desk, book donation management, thanking our donors, and raising funds through Barn Quilts for Books. Each one’s hours of commitment to the library adds up to keeping us moving forward to better serving our community.
The small library, sitting quietly on the corner of Salem and Main, may not appear to be a hot bed of activity. The trickle of people in and out is not remarkable. Neither are the one or two cars in the lot tapping the wifi at all hours. We don’t see the patrons take home the telescope or wifi hotspots in addition to books and movies. But the records show that there are 2,016 cardholding citizens in Craig County. That is 39% of our county. They obviously value that small library on the corner and continue coming back. They like all of us, have this small staff and handful of volunteers to thank for keeping the doors open at the corner of Salem and Main.
If you are a member of the Friends of the Library, come join the party! There will be refreshments and laughs guaranteed. If rain moves in, catch us on zoom – check back here or on our Facebook page.No comments
View our annual report below, stop by the library to pick up a physical tri-fold, or download the PDF here.
A “Hot Spot” is a portable device which gives you Wi-fi signal for internet wherever you are. As long as you can get cellular reception, you can use a hot spot to get access to the internet. Most areas of the county now have US Cellular access and some areas also have Verizon access, and still some areas do not have cell reception at all due to our mountainous terrain.
Believe it or not, everyone in Craig County does not have a smart phone. Families with children may need multiple devices so everyone can attend school from home. Whether that be a smartphone, a tablet, ipad, or a personal computer, a high speed internet connection would be required. Reliable internet is just not available in many parts of Craig County even if you have the devices to use it. And, like it or not, internet is becoming essential in today’s school and business world.
Many people have internet access through their land line which does not depend on the cellular tower to provide access. Still the internet is notoriously slow through the land lines. Higher speed internet is required for some applications to work and for working with photographs and videos. Zoom meetings can be difficult without higher speed internet. Subscriptions for internet cost money and higher speeds cost more.
Because of these challenges, the Library Board decided to purchase two hot spots to be checked out by library patrons. The fees for their subscriptions are paid by the library. This is a new item in the budget, but a highly popular one. We would love to have at least ten hot spots for patrons to check out if we could find funds for that purpose. Each one costs $80 and there is a monthly subscription fee.
Students doing school from home have had hotspots provided by the school, but when these are no longer available, we anticipate a greater need for internet access at home. Otherwise, students must travel to a place like the library or school parking lot where they can receive free high speed internet. Since transportation is necessary for this, then a parent must take the child to such a place. Because our library is so small, we can only allow one patron at a time to enter the building for using the internet, so parents cannot drop kids at the library to use the computers like they used to. Using a portable hot spot can be one solution.
It’ as easy as checking out a book. Anyone with a current library card can check out a hot spot. There is no fee or deposit required. Your borrowed hot spot must be returned in 1 week and the late fees are the same as for movies- a dollar a day. You can call the library if you have any questions at 864-8978.
This is just another way the Craig County Public Library seeks to fulfill its mission of empowering individuals to build a stronger community. Helping students with their education and helping adults to navigate today’s digital world are ways we can contribute to greater prosperity. Creating this ripple effect multiplies your financial gifts and our local tax dollars. Thank you for supporting your library!
The gift card drawing for the Friends of the Library Membership Drive was at the end of June. The winner, Diane Givens, received a $100 gift certificate from Vickie Moore to be used at Helms Hardware in New Castle. The Membership Drive drawing supports both our library and a local business.
Membership fees keep the Craig County Library open for residents use. Becoming a member is one of the many ways the community can support the library. Those dollars contribute to our limited staff and keep movies and books on the shelf. You can join or renew your membership and/or donate at any time. The dues cover membership starting July 1st of the current year to June 30th of the next year. Access the Friends of the Library membership form here.
We are grateful to our Membership Chair Jane Henderson for making this year’s drive such a success. The drawing was not only her idea but a direct donation that she made for the library. Thank you to all our members and your support of the library. If you are not a member yet, you still can sign up by picking up a form at the library.
Due to the pandemic, we’ve been forced to postpone our in-person Annual Meeting. Luckily for us, however, our planned speaker, Yvette Grove, author of Lily’s Deliciously Different Day, has recorded a video presentation about her book, its message, and the importance of supporting the Craig County Public Library during our June Membership Drive.
There is Double Aster, Star of the Show and Carpenter’s Wheel. Mary’s Flower, Autumn Cross and Appalachian Bull. Anvil, Laced Star and Crowned Mule. And, of course, Craig Library.
Those sobriquets are just a part of a thriving barn quilt operation that brings a fascinating look to even timeworn structures in multiple states while raising money for the community library in Craig County, Va.
“This is like a second career. I’m having a ball. I’m just as happy as a clam with no end in sight,” says Martha Dillard, who has meticulously designed, etched and painted more than 155 barn quilts since 2014 in the studio she maintains behind her family home near New Castle, Va.
In the process, she’s raised more than $15,000 through her Barn Quilts for Books program to support the small but growing Craig County Public Library.
“When I started, I thought if I got 20, I could raise $2,000 for the library and that would be good,” says Dillard, a member of Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative. “I never imagined it would take off like it did.”
To set the record straight, barn quilts are not padded comforters of the kind grandmothers weave and place at the foot of beds. Those wouldn’t stand a chance tacked to the side of a barn in the summer Virginia sun.
Instead, the quilt refers to a unique pattern on the given medium. Dillard’s artistry employs lightweight aluminum composite plates that run from 2-by-2 feet to 8-by-8 feet. A longtime painter, she’s not an art snob, but has deﬁnite opinions about others in the ﬁeld
who use plywood as their canvas.
“Having painted on a lot of different surfaces, I knew I did not want to paint on plywood, which is what many of the painters in the country are using for these things. It doesn’t hold up well. You have to prime it front, back and sideways and put braces on it, and it’s very heavy,” she says.
As of late March, her quilts were on display in eight states, with an outside hope that a couple living in Illinois would take their possession to their other residence in Israel. “I told the daughter-in-law who bought it, ‘If they ever take this to Israel, will you let me know because I’d love to go international.’” Dillard laughs.
A native of Texas, Dillard moved to Virginia with her husband, John, now emeritus professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech. Along the way, she earned an art degree from Tech and constructed a studio when the couple decided to move from Blacksburg to the country about 22 years ago. She had been a painter for 35 years with landscapes and a variety of other pieces, some of which hang on the studio walls.
But she was ready to move on from a near-lifetime of dabbing a ﬁne brush in acrylics.
“I had grown tired of it,” Dillard says. “I had run out of steam and enthusiasm. I wanted to make things but I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
Then she came across a story about a barn quilt trail in Highland County, Va., and knew she had found the answer, one that allowed her to combine her talents with support for the public library.
“We have had great success with the barn quilts; the community loves them,” says Letha Persinger, director of the Craig County Library. “We have some patrons who have bought two or three. Our barn quilt trail is very popular as well with visitors.”
The barn quilt ﬁeld is relatively young, less than 20 years old. Donna Sue Graves, an Ohio woman, is considered to be the founding mother of the movement, coming up with the concept to honor her mother and her Appalachian heritage. Graves proposed the ﬁrst quilt trail, where motorists could take their Sunday drives past a rich array of patterns and themes.
Dillard traveled to Ohio to see barn quilts ﬁrsthand and drew on her own research and experience to personalize her endeavor. At ﬁrst, Barn Quilts for Books operated largely under the radar, but she got a major boost when the late T. Marshall Hahn Jr., a former Virginia Tech president, found out about her creations.
Hahn collected folk art at his home on a farm outside of Blacksburg. He wanted seven quilts, including some
with maroon and orange Hokie colors. It was a perfect ﬁt, Dillard recalls.
“He wanted them up by football season because all the football trafﬁc went by his house to avoid Interstate 81. Then, there was an article in one of the magazines that a lot of people saw, and it just became kind of word of mouth,” she says.
OH, THE STORIES
One beneﬁt of quilt-making, Dillard notes, is that she is no longer painting something that she hopes someone will appreciate or purchase. Guesswork is at a minimum; about 90% of her would-be buyers already have a design or theme in mind.
“They’re preplanned or pre-sold,” she says. “You don’t have to try to ﬁgure out what somebody wants on their wall. You just paint what they already love.”
Like a client who collects and sells farm equipment and is fascinated with old-style Cockshutt tractors, which were phased out more than 40 years ago. Working from a picture, Dillard fashioned an 8-by-8-foot quilt for him.
Technically speaking, that’s not a pattern in the tradition of, say, geometric designs from Pennsylvania’s Dutch country, which is known worldwide for quilting.
But if someone has an idea, Dillard is more than happy to bring it to life.
One client wanted a barn quilt of a bird as a cherished reminder of her childhood. “She wanted a redbird,” Dillard says. “When she was a little girl, her mother told her that when she wrote Santa, she should clip it to the clothesline and the redbird would take it to Santa Claus. And she said, ‘I still think the redbird brings messages from him.’ So, we worked to ﬁnd the right size, the right images to go on her barn.”
Another quilt is visible from Interstate 81 near Radford. It’s an intricate double wedding ring, which is a popular quilt style. Dillard’s client received a woven-style quilt for her 1963 marriage, but the fabric hasn’t stood up to the test of time. The one on the barn will.
“I made the barn quilt for her and she is so happy,” Dillard says. “People say, ‘But you don’t get paid.’ I say, ‘I get paid in the joy that people show — and you cannot buy this — when they walk in and see the ﬁnished product.’”
ARTIST AT WORK
For Dillard, the blade is as important as the brush. She carves designs with a utility knife, applies masking tape to the relevant area, and then trims the tape so she can paint in a precise area. Her studio looks like a color wheel gone wild, with just about every possible permutation of paint kept in recyclable containers.
Once the pattern is in hand, production can take a couple of weeks, though that varies depending on the complexity of the project or a work backlog. Dillard prefers a semigloss exterior latex for her quilts.
“It’s house paint so you have a certain ﬂuidity. You want to be as uniform as possible and try to use really smooth brush strokes so that it will be a ﬂat color, which is what shows up better. I’m making a sign, after all. This is a sign and it needs to be read from a distance.”
The material holds up well in inclement weather. A quilt on a small building behind the county library has been up since 2014, facing south in full sun. “It’s red, green, yellow and blue, and it’s not faded at all. It still looks perfect. So, I keep telling people I can’t guarantee these things, but I think they’re going to last for at least 10 years,” Dillard says.
Prices vary depending on size — a 2-foot square is $125 and an 8-foot square is $450, with in-between sizes as well. The price covers the materials and library donation; Dillard adds a small fee for intricate design work.
And Dillard always keeps an eye open for new destinations. “As I drive down the road, there are places where I keep thinking, ‘I should knock on their door and see if I can put one up there.’ It’s amazing fun.”
For more information, visit barnquiltsforbooks.com.
CRAIG COUNTY, VA
Some 50 barn quilts — and the number is growing — dot the highways and backroads of this New River Valley County. You’ll find many of them along Va. 42, which bisects the county from northeast to southwest. The New Castle and Newport areas are particular hot spots. Three barn quilts are visible north of New Castle at White Oak Hill Farm, which also has camels on the property.
GREENE COUNTY, VA
The Blue Ridge Barn Quilt Tour is said to be the largest in Virginia with more than 100 works of art featured on barns, fences and houses in 80-plus locations. It started in 2016 with a push from the Art Guild of Greene County Economic Development and Tourism. Several are visible off U.S. 33 as you head to Skyline Drive. Like other tours, this one is self-guided.
CAROLINE COUNTY, MD
This is a little different but worth a look when you’re on the Eastern Shore. Caroline County hosts the Byway Quilt Trail, which features about 15 barn quilt block replicas at historic sites along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Several agencies put it together in honor of the Tubman centennial. Volunteers painted each composite material quilt by hand. They all tie into the Underground Railroad.
HIGHLAND COUNTY, VA
Known as Virginia’s Switzerland, this county has maintained an active barn quilt tour for several years. Nearly three dozen quilts catch visitors’ eyes, with several interesting ones along U.S. 220 north and south of the town of Monterey. Margie Boesch has been the most prolific barn quilt producer in Highland; her Jacob’s Ladder on Mountain Turnpike honors the late owner of the farm that it sits on.
Highlandcounty.org/brochures and click on “Barn Quilt Trails.”
LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA
One of the newest additions, the Loudoun County Barn Quilt Trail opened in 2018. A variety of rural treasures are mounted on the sides of old barns, some of which are today used for diverse purposes such as a brewery and crafts display.
Empowering individuals to build
a stronger community.