By Nancy Moore
“I predict you will wonder from this day forward how you ever got along without the services we are starting here today.”
—Randolph Church, Virginia State Librarian, speaking at the opening of Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Reported in The Free Lance-Star, July 19, 1969)
From 1969 through 2000, Jean Jett carefully clipped this and other newspaper articles about the regional library where her daughter, Vikki Dembowski, was employed. Those yellowed articles have been copied by library volunteers and compiled in seven big loose-leaf notebooks entitled CRRL in the News. They can be perused in the Virginiana Room, located at Fredericksburg Branch.
In the early days, the former Lafayette Elementary School was the only building in the library system. Member counties were served by bookmobiles that traveled rural roads, bringing books to far-flung members. Many of the stories about the library focused on the bookmobiles and story hours for children. Book sales were another popular story topic. The first one was held in April 1972. In 1974, Librarian Marjorie Whidden talked about improving the library’s Virginiana collection. “We’re not specializing in rare books. We want a very usable collection,” she said prophetically.
That expanded collection is now housed in two beautiful rooms on the ground floor of Fredericksburg Branch. As the years went by, the regional library grew and prospered. There are now eight branches with more on the horizon.