South County Library 2.0

New services and offerings enhance patron experience, inspire creativity

By Nan Bauroth | Photos courtesy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

As South County Regional Library celebrates its 25th year, recent renovations and innovative programming ensure the branch remains a valued local resource for all community members.

“We have changed and adapted to the times as best we can,” says Laura Highfill, regional manager of South County Regional Library. “The library is seen as a ‘safe space’ and continues to enjoy a good reputation, even with the changes necessary to fit our world. It is one of the remaining free spaces that is welcoming to everyone whether or not they purchase something.”

Statistics support her contention: In 2023, South County circulated over 700,000 items, and last September alone, 22,000 people visited the branch in person. According to Highfill, another reason the branch gets so much traffic is that it is a helpful source of information. “Customers can ask us about preschools in the area, places to take their children, where to vote, etc. Plus, we offer classes and programs that usually have waitlists.”

Offerings abound at the library, from Paws 2 Read (above) to the Makerspace Studio.

Those programs include the popular children’s story times tailored by age, including one in Chinese. The library also offers school-age programs on Charlotte Mecklenburg School teacher workdays, so families have a fun activity to enjoy when their youngsters are out of school. Another innovative offering is Paws to Read, where kids can boost reading skills and confidence by reading aloud to volunteer therapy dogs.

Adult programming is also increasingly diverse. There’s the Yarn Nook, a craft conversation group; No Way Crochet for beginning crocheters; a Meditation Series; and an Adaptive Experiences Workshop for adults and teens featuring an interactive program filled with books, music and activities designed for people with autism spectrum disorder, sensory integration issues or developmental disabilities.

To meet the needs of an increasingly diverse local population, South County has also enlarged its World Language Collection, which includes Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, Telegu, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

One addition made during the renovation that Highfill says is underused is the laptop vending machine. “Customers can check out a laptop and work anywhere in the building with it, unlike the desktop PCs on the second floor.”