TRAPHILL — For the last 20 years, visitors of the Traphill Public Library have seen the familiar face of local resident Ola Norman. After a career spent helping book lovers find their next great read, children discover a hidden world through words on a page, and hours of conversation with guests, Norman cheerfully passes on the torch to a new librarian.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do, I guess whatever comes up,” said Norman with a laugh, explaining how she’ll spend her days after retirement. “I enjoy sewing, quilting, and I also read a lot. I’ve loved books since I learned to read.”
Norman agrees that she could not have found a more perfect career. An avid book lover, Norman has remained passionate about exploring the works of her favorite authors. “I mostly read Christian fiction,” said Norman, stating that a favorite author is Francine Rivers. “Everyone needs to read her.”
As far as works outside of her norm, Norman occasionally picks a novel for curiosity’s sake. “I read one by Stephen King, although I really don’t like horror,” said Norman. “I really don’t like that type of book but I found that I just had to finish it. He’s just a terrific writer.”
Guests of the library are the ones who can truly benefit from Norman’s expertise. Through her extensive knowledge and attention to detail, Norman is able to point visitors in the direction of a book that will be suitable to their taste. “I’ve learned what different ones like,” Norman said of her acquaintances. “I’ve got some that like books on the Appalachians and lots of James Patterson fans. I’ve listened to a lot of his books on CD.”
Norman first began working with the library while it was still located in a small structure known as the Bargain House just off of a sharp bend in Traphill Road. While Norman’s career began June 19, 1995, the library itself dates back more than 50 years. “The best we could figure it first started in ‘63 or ‘64,” said Norman.
By moving to the present location, the library offered the community more space for programs, computers and, of course, books.
“We have a huge genealogy section,” said Norman, who once encountered a letter written by her aunt in the stack of records donated by a woman from the Traphill area and now living in Oregon. “Even finding little tidbits from the past makes it real, fascinating.”
The library allows access to its genealogy records, as well as a free online account with Ancestry.com for patrons. “There was one fella who came in and his family was looking for stuff about their relatives,” said Norman. “He joked we might be cousins and after he began looking he found information and it turned out we are related through seven of eight great-grandparents, seven lines.”
Though Norman has thoroughly enjoyed her time at the library, it is time for the torch to be passed along. Taking her place as the new librarian is Brittney Barbour, an Elkin resident and native of the Wake County area.
Barbour, a graduate of the Catawba College English literature program, previously spent three years working with the Wilkes library system in the children’s literature department.
“I am excited,” said Barbour of the new opportunity. “It’s a big change of pace. I’m going to have to be remembering the adult section as opposed to just children’s.”
Barbour hopes to develop programs at the library by getting in touch with area schools and families to inform them of the services the library has to offer. Programs ongoing through the summer include an 11 a.m. story time and several special guests.
“We have a Facebook page for the Traphill library branch as well,” said Barbour, as a reminder to residents that programs are listed online.
For more information, contact the Traphill Public Library at 336-957-2534.
While Norman’s days will certainly be full of books, sewing and whatever suits her pleasure, she will plan to continue her weekly column in The Tribune titled Stone Mountain News, which she has written for nearly 20 years.
Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.