Recently at the Randolph-County Public Library a woman came in and asked at the front desk if the library had some books on local history. I overheard her request and took the opportunity to tell her about my AmeriCorps service project. Since placing the majority of books in the library’s entire collection in storage as a result of water damage around the beginning of 2022, the only books currently available for checking out are all fiction. The woman stated that she was in town from California to visit family and had taken a trip on the tourist train in Elkins earlier in the day and was interested in local history.
I was more than happy to show her how to access the material I have digitized on the library’s website and she was extremely interested in learning about the project. That alone was rewarding for me as it’s been a bit of a challenge to garner interest in the project. A few days later she returned and we talked some more and to my surprise she stated that after reviewing one particular book I had digitized, ‘Chronicles of Border Warfare’ by A.S. Withers, she purchased a copy locally from the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. We discussed the book for a bit and how it was especially interesting because of the areas where the book primarily takes place, north-central West Virginia and eastern Ohio.
Interest in local history by the general public, as far as I can tell, is admittedly limited, so this occasion stood out and hopefully there will be more interest generated in my service project in my next year of service and perhaps she will spread the word about the project to friends and family who are also interested in local history. I hope to achieve this by planning some days to demonstrate the project to the public and continuing to put the word out on social media which could result in having more similar great stories to share as a result.
Josh Wanstreet is the Preserve WV AmeriCorps member serving with the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library during the 2021-2022 service year.
Preserve WV Stories