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Roanoke News

Posted on: June 15, 2021

Roanoke Public Libraries Re-Opens Newly Renovated Gainsboro Branch

On Tuesday, June 15, Roanoke Public Libraries held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to re-open the newly renovated Gainsboro Branch Library. This renovation represents the City’s continued commitment to support the Library’s Master Plan to update and expand neighborhood branches that provide accessible services to the community.

The City has been renovating all of its library locations since the Gainsboro Library’s renovation in 2009. At that time, renovations made at the Gainsboro branch included the addition of a Teen Center and Community Room.  With the 2021 renovation, upgrades include new furniture, carpet, shelving, books, paint and refinishing, technology and a redesigned teen and children’s area.

“We are proud of this project, and the value it brings to engage, educate, and empower the community for years to come,” said Mayor Sherman P. Lea.

Originally opened in 1921, the Gainsboro Branch Library has historically been an important stakeholder in Roanoke’s Black community, and is dedicated to providing resources to the community to commemorate the past and inspire the future. This library branch houses Southwest Virginia’s largest collection of books on African-American Studies, named after former librarian Virginia Y. Lee. In addition, the Gainsboro Library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia State Landmark.  

“Libraries are a key stakeholder in communities and are civic hubs that serve generations of families, offering unique and varied services and programming,” said Library Director Sheila Umberger. “We’re all so proud of the amazing upgrades this renovation has given this beloved library, which will continue to serve this community for many years.”

Events planned this week to celebrate the re-opening of the Gainsboro Branch Library include the following:

  • Cafe Night Program—Thursday, June 17, at 6 p.m., which will include live music and food.
  • Juneteenth Celebration—Friday, June 18, at 10 a.m. with a walking tour around the Gainsboro neighborhood, led by local historian Jordan Bell.
  • Lecture and Book Signing—Thursday, June 24, with Author and Former Mayor Nelson Harris, speaking on Roanoke’s Black History in the 1940s, based on the research for his book The Roanoke Valley in the 1940s.

For more information, please contact Sheila Umberger at 540-853-2476 or send an email to sheila.umberger@roanokeva.gov.

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