The J. Robert Jamerson Memorial Library decided to take a trip across the pond…virtually, of course. In February of 2020, we took our first steps to establish a Sister Library.
A sister library is a partnership with another library somewhere else in the world. It’s a way to participate in an international exchange of ideas, community spirit, local history, and worldwide goodwill. In addition, the staff considered this opportunity a fun, educational, and adventurous way to add diverse culture and a bit of excitement to our own library. We wanted to keep our small town charm while expanding the minds of our patrons, thus the idea of establishing a Sister Library partnership was born.
First, we had to find a library to partner. With as many libraries as there are worldwide, we decided to come up with a few basic search criteria. We looked for a library with a similar population to our own and in an English speaking country. Our search brought us to the Taverham Library in the United Kingdom, located near the city of Norwich in the county of Norfolk, England. We decided to reach out to Taverham for several reasons:
- Taverham has a similar population (Taverham – pop. 15,512; Appomattox – pop. 15,991)
- Both locations speak English so there is no language barrier
- Both Appomattox, VA, USA and Taverham, County Norfolk, UK have a significant amount of local history to be shared
In February 2020, we reached out to the Taverham Library to see if they were interested in becoming our Sister Library. Once they agreed to work with us, we began introducing them to our own library patrons. We began in May with a campaign to “Welcome our Sister Library, the Taverham Library.” Volunteers and staff made folded tea and biscuit treat packets for our patrons to take home and enjoy. We also put up a display in our foyer which included a Norfolk County flag, donated by a local actor who visits the UK every few years.
In June, the library sent off our first package to our new Sister Library as an extension of our friendship. This first package was filled with items of importance to the citizens of Appomattox County: stickers, maps, the book “The Silent Witness” as well as a replica of the Silent Witness doll, a few additional books featuring Appomattox history, and items from the local visitor’s center. Many of these items were donated by the local Appomattox 1865 Foundation whose goal is to promote the “understanding and appreciation of the heritage and significance of Appomattox Court House National Park.” Because of the prohibitive shipping costs to England we will not be able to send packages often, but hope to send something yearly if we are able. For now, most of our exchange will remain via email and social media.
Unfortunately, the pandemic played a huge role in slowing down the progress of communication with Taverham, but we are keeping a positive outlook and moving forward. England has been, and continues to be in a much stricter lockdown than the United States. Once they are able to fully reopen, we look forward to receiving a package from them that we will be able to share and enjoy with our community in Appomattox. If things work out as we would like, our future plans with Taverham include a book club, an exchange of Story & Craft Time ideas, inclusion in social media posts, children’s programs, photos, history, local news, and more.
Both the J. Robert Jamerson Memorial Library and the Taverham Library understand the importance of camaraderie between libraries and the ability to share ideas, even across an ocean. This is a new adventure for both libraries and we are excited to take this journey together.
-Katherine Bloodworth and Diana Harvey