‘One strong library’
Central Virginia Regional Library Director Rick Ewing noted that the library was the last thing to be desegregated in Farmville, and Sunday afternoon, a crowd of more than 70 people gathered to honor the two women who made this happen.
Sunday’s event at the Farmville library featured the dedication of portraits and a plaque honoring LaVerne Pervall and Patty Pugh, the founders of what is now known as the Barbara Rose Johns Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library.
(To see more photos from the event, click here.)
Pugh was present at the event, and Pervall, who passed away in 1999, was represented by family members.
After Ewing provided an introduction, the Rev. Dr. Nancy Meck performed the invocation, and the four speakers gave remarks. Libby Blanton offered insights into Pugh’s character and characteristics, and doing the same for Pervall was the Rev. J. Samuel Williams and Farmville Vice Mayor A.D. “Chuckie” Reid.
Pugh was the last one to speak.
During his introduction, Ewing read what is on the plaque in its entirety. It has the heading of “Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library,” and what is written below that is as follows:
“The story of this library begins in 1913 with the founding of the ‘Farmville Public Library.’ It served whites only. In the early 1940s the ‘Farmville Reading Room’ was established, open to all but used mainly by African-Americans. Both libraries were small and poorly funded. Both ended up in basements — the Public Library in the Hotel Weyanoke basement and the Reading Room in the basement of Beulah A.M.E. Church.
“In 1979 LaVerne Pervall, chair of the Reading Room, picked up the phone and called Patty Pugh, chair of the Public Library. Ms. Pervall wanted to combine the two libraries; she later said, ‘I thought one strong library was better than two weak ones.’ Ms. Pugh agreed, and these two savvy and influential women set about doing just that.
“They met in a local home one evening and quietly began planning their campaign for community acceptance and support. This resulted in an integrated library board that was organized in 1982. The new library was incorporated in 1984 as the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library. The board chose to use the term ‘community library’ rather than ‘public library’ to make it clear that all were welcome in this newly combined library.
“On April 15, 1987, the new Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library opened its doors at 217 West Third Street. Six years later it combined with the Buckingham County Public Library to form the Central Virginia Regional Library.
“In 2010 the building you’re in now became the new home of the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library and the headquarters of the Central Virginia Regional Library. In 2017 this building was dedicated in the name of Barbara Rose Johns.
“Members of the first (1982) Board of the Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library:
“LaVerne Pervall, chair
“Patty Pugh, vice chair
“Gerry Spates, Farmville town manager
“Marvin Scott, Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors representative
“Fred Hanbury III
“Sara G. White”