Newton, NC – The North Carolina Public Library Directors Association has named Catawba County resident Sylvia King as its Library Friend of the Year 2020. King, a retired educator, is treasurer of the Catawba County Friends of the Library, a role she has held for 13 years.
The NCPLDA award for Library Friend of the Year recognizes community engagement, mentorship, and impact on the community, library staff, and the library profession. It’s presented to an individual who has provided outstanding leadership or support to libraries.
King began her association with the Catawba County Friends of the Library in 2007, when a group of library supporters came together to reestablish an inactive Friends group. Although the role was intended to rotate to other volunteers, King has accepted the office consecutively, maintaining continuity and direction. Speaking about her dedication, Susan B. Anderson, the Friends of the Library president, shares, “Sylvia is amazing. Whenever there is a need for something, by the time you describe it, Sylvia will already have it done.”
King works closely with the library staff and advocates for library services and resources as treasurer. Through fundraising efforts, the Friends of the Library sponsor all of the library’s paid performers for the annual Summer Learning program, along with prizes and promotional materials. This past year, the Friends also funded Beanstack, an online platform that helps users track their reading challenges. When pandemic restrictions moved all programming to an online format, the Catawba County Library was well equipped for the transition, helping families stay engaged in learning and reading from home.
This past March, during the library’s mandated closure, King was one of two Friends still comfortable handling book donations. Since the library reopened to the public in May, she has ensured that the ongoing book sales at various library branches remain stocked. She has logged approximately 250 hours in the library this year, accepting and sorting through book donations, maintaining the Friends’ bank account, and processing payments to the library for online programming, software, and promotional items. She has also been instrumental in encouraging members to continue meeting via Zoom to keep the group’s work moving forward.
King has a history of driving community engagement and advocacy by supporting the library at Catawba County Board of Commissioners meetings and at municipal council meetings. She also writes letters and makes phone calls to state and local representatives to promote education and library initiatives. When the library welcomes legislators, partners, and stakeholders to its annual Day in the District program, King speaks with visitors, helps host display tables, shares refreshments, and supports the event with funding from the Friends.
On a regular basis, King tracks purchases, records sales, and maintains inventory of items the Friends sell to patrons, enhancing their experience of the library. Among the services and merchandise available are an affordable Friends Coffee Corner, flash drives, ear buds, canvas totes, and small-scale original art. These items are offered at very low cost with a focus on patron convenience and access.
In addition to her support of the library, King volunteers with the North Carolina Extension & Community Association in a variety of capacities: serving as secretary of the executive board of the county’s ECA chapter, sewing camisoles for women living with breast cancer, and making baby quilts, lap robes, and animal beds for the ECA’s Catawba Angels group. She also volunteers at Red Cross blood drives, with Meals on Wheels, and with Project Linus, making and donating quilts. King is an avid home gardener as well.
The NCPLDA is an association of the public library directors whose goals are to share professional knowledge and experience for the good of all members, to serve as advocates for public libraries with the state legislature, to give voice to the aspirations of the public library community, and to serve as the primary liaison between the state library agency and the public libraries.