Cumberland Library plans to merge with Central Virginia system

Published 12:24 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

After spending most of the year figuring out the best way to move forward, the Cumberland County Public Library is merging with the Central Virginia Regional Library (CVRL) by the end of the year. 

The Cumberland County Public Library has gone through some changes this year as it has done its best to stay open without a librarian. This started in February with the unexpected passing of Lisa Davis. As the librarian, she put in much more work than anyone realized and her passing made it difficult to find someone who could fill her place. The board of trustees stepped in to keep the library open as they worked to find a replacement. 

 

After trying different routes to keep the library open, the board weighed their options. In April, the board met with Rick Ewing, the director of CVRL about possibly merging. Ewing is a Cumberland resident and was very interested in helping out as the CVRL currently serves Prince Edward and Buckingham Counties as well as Farmville.

Being part of a regional library means that Cumberland will have access to more resources.  CVRL already has staff helping out at the Cumberland Library to keep it open. Being part of the regional library provides consolidated services and administrative personnel along with an IT specialist. There is also regional staff that will take care of bookkeeping, ordering, cataloging and processing for Cumberland along with the other branches. 

“All of this results in considerable savings, I believe, over what Cumberland alone would have to pay for those people and services that we already have on board,” said Ewing. 

A challenging time for the Cumberland Library 

Even though the board has kept the doors open, the Cumberland Library hasn’t been able to provide as many programs and events. Fortunately, this merger will bring some of those back along with new ones. Cumberland will get a youth services specialist who will work with the regional youth services coordinator to make sure there are activities for the young residents of the county. CVRL has events for children as young as six weeks and wants to bring those to Cumberland as well as focus on having a space for teenagers to do their thing. 

Other CVRL plans include adding one or two small study rooms for residents to use for whatever they need as those are already popular at the other branches. They also are working to increase the internet speed and have wireless internet available 24/7 for residents to use whenever they need it. 

“If you want to come Christmas morning and use our wi-fi, Lord knows why you might want to do that, but you will be able to,” said Ewing. “You can now it will just be faster and I think better.”

Looking at the timeline

The timeline for the project has moved up as the merge was originally planned for June 2024. Now, both parties are working together to get this finished by the end of the calendar year. A lot of this is dependent on budget as this is in the middle of the fiscal year. According to Ewing, the library will need $11,220 to cover operating and merging costs through the fiscal year.

Other funding has already come through as public libraries get funding through the Library of Virginia, local government funding and grants. Last month a legislature passed that brought state funding up and Cumberland will now get an additional $9,200 through state funding and will continue next year. The library also received $8,000 from the Library of Virginia for joining the region.