• Laurel Contributor

Happenings at the Hudson

by Marlene Osteen

In the season of celebrations, Hudson Library celebrates its storied past while turning its gaze to the future.

This year, Highlands Hudson Library celebrates two anniversaries – 135 years since its founding and 75 years since the beginning of the Fontana Regional Library System.

What started as a bookmobile service in 1944 and as a way to provide library service to the Tennessee Valley Authority workers finishing the Fontana Dam, the Fontana Library System, now supports six libraries in three counties: Macon, Jackson and Swain. Their aim continues to be providing facilities to rural residents.

In Highlands, the Hudson Library, the state’s second oldest, got its start when 80 books were delivered in covered wagon to the schoolhouse in “loving memory of Ella Emmons Hudson.” Today, Hudson is one of the busiest places in town, and a gathering place where residents can explore, learn and interact.

More than just a collection of books, the libraries are a collective pool of narratives, firmly community-centered.

In Highlands, former concert pianist and academician Carlyn Morenus leads Hudson. Passionate about her role, she continually assesses services and fights fiercely to enhance the cultural and community offerings that in an increasing digital world are more important than ever.

As it provides a vital support system, Hudson has become an essential component of the community. It supplements its print materials with free online access to thousands of newspapers, journals, and reference materials. The computers allow access to the economically stressed for job searches and education.

It champions youth through the children’s playroom and story times. It stimulates curiosity and promotes learning and invention with a 3D printer and a collection of “Maker Tools” – from 3-D pens and robots to weaving machines, and more. Patrons are entitled to free notary services, and can view movies via the Internet through the new Kanopy service.

The library is a meeting place where residents are encouraged to gather and discuss issues of concern. Outside the building, Morenus strives to play an active role in addressing community issues and is currently working on a broadband initiative and a plan to expand fiber optic cables to Scaly.

The celebration is being marked by two initiatives. You are invited to share your story about how libraries positively impacted your life at /fontantlib.or/75stories. Or you may contribute to the fundraising drive – the goal is raise $75,000 – at fontanalib.or/support-your-library-donations. Today, per capita costs are increasing, while library use is soaring, and resources and information provided has risen dramatically. But despite its widespread use and its tremendous popularity, Fontana and Hudson need more funding in order to expand its reach and services. Your contribution can have a major impact.

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