Libraries transform a community

Beth Edwards

Winston County Librarian


Do you know the five ways the Winston County Library brings value to our community?  David Morris, who wrote “The Public Library Manifesto: Why Libraries Matter, and How We Can Save Them,” in YES! Magazine, May 6, 2011, explains that libraries add value to our communities and serve as cultural centers for our patrons by (1) being community builders, (2) being community centers for diverse populations, (3) being centers for the arts, (4) being universities (meaning, in a time when education is increasingly expensive, public libraries provide information and educational opportunities free for all people), and (5) by being champions of youth.  

The Winston County Library is open six days a week, forty-three and a half hours a week, and has a website which is filled with online research collections, downloadable content, reference help, and access to an array of the library’s holdings and information.

Economic hard times encourage people to borrow DVD’s, books and newspapers rather than buy them, and to use public computer terminals for job searches. By any cost-benefit analysis, dollars spent on a public library are a wise investment.  

Over the last year the library circulated approximately 5,100 items a month, including books, DVDs, books on CD and free e-books.  Attendance averages 5,200 people a month.  We presented programs to over 3,226 school children during the school year, and over 1,024 children and teens attended our Summer Reading Programs.  We had 8,700 computer users for a total of 6,700 hours, which averages out to 725 users each month for 558 hours per month. The internet has made public libraries more relevant, not less, as some people suggest. Three-fourths of all internet use at our library is for e-mail, job search and research.

The free Dial-A-Story program for children (662-773-3566) brought in 1,958 callers.  Librarian Beth Edwards proctored tests or exams for over 200 college students.  We served over 111 patrons with home-book deliveries due to illness, being home-bound, or in a nursing home.

The Friends of the Library raised over $5,000 for library needs such as reference and children’s books, four new solid wood art easels, a 12-pocket literature tabletop organizer,  a wooden donation box, and free brown bag lunches for over nine book events, including  Marshall Ramsey, Richard Grant, Charlie Spillers, Ted DiBiase (The “Million Dollar Man”), Michael Farris Smith, Leslie Buehler, Dr. Ben Abadie, L. Sydney Fisher, and Lori Harrington.

We held many book signings for local and state authors; art shows, cultural and educational programs for students and adults, gardening programs, and health seminars. Every month sees

beautiful floral display by local garden clubs and florists/gift shops in our lobby. Local quilters also display their quilts every month.  Our civic clubs use the library for displays educating the

public on their many community services and activities.  Dozens of local high school students satisfy required service hours after school and during school breaks by volunteering at the

library. Local citizens provide Christmas for many underprivileged area children by “adopting” them from the annual Junior Auxiliary Angel Tree, located each November at the library.  

Junior-high, high-school and college students utilize the library’s free Magnolia database, funded by our state legislature, to access magazines, journals, study guides for GED, ACT, SAT, ASVAB and many more.  Magnolia also provides students free access to tutoring in virtually every subject, homework aids, and research tools for student papers and essays.

We are the only provider in the county for free hardcopy federal and state tax forms.  We have an impressive genealogy and local history collection, which has been praised by people who visit us from all over the nation. Also, an impressive collection of local and regional artwork is housed within the library.

The Winston County Library is part of the Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System, made up of Attala, Leake, Holmes, Montgomery and Winston Counties, with headquarters in Kosciusko, MS.  The Mid-Mississippi Regional Library System is also a member of the Mississippi Library Partnership, which brings an additional 3.1 million titles to our patrons for their use.

Your public library is a truly democratic space where all are welcome and where everything inside is available to everyone. Contact us at, or 662-773-3212 or visit our website at for information on any of our programming or for questions in general.