Libraries active attractions in Belmont County

BELMONT COUNTY libraries are a valuable community resource, offering programs and services for people of all ages during cold winter days and during inclement weather when many prefer to stay indoors.

At the Belmont County District Library in Martins Ferry, open playtime is popular among young children. On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, the basement level is filled with rambunctious children ages 2 to 6. Anessa Keifer, youth services librarian, said there are play stations where many enjoy free-reign play.

“The fact that it’s unstructured makes a big difference,” she said, adding that open play has become so popular that the formerly monthly program has become bimonthly.

Meanwhile Cora Perry, assistant librarian, said the library has seen an increase in patrons. She added that new books are available every month.

“It gets busy in here,” she said, adding that two new book clubs recently started in the county. A fiction book club that meets at Bridgeport’s library gathers at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of every month, and a murder mystery book club meets at 6 p.m. the third Tuesday of the every month at the Martins Ferry library.

A Sit ‘n Stitch sewing club also meets regularly.

“We have varying adult events every month,” she said. “Every branch has several book clubs and events.”

The Bellaire Public Library is another site of interest, and many displays there have an emphasis on history. Among them is a map of the county from the 1800s, with replicas of riverboats also on display.

“It’s interesting. It’s history,” library patron Ben Smith of Spencer, West Virginia, said.

Local woodcarving artist John “Edward” Doughty of Martins Ferry has loaned many of his pieces for display. They hearken back to the steam and railway history of the county, as well as to the wagons and stagecoaches that once traveled National Road.

Librarian Mary Roberts added that Bellaire’s Great Stone Viaduct Society will hold history lectures on Wednesdays in February and March. She said the library offers free storytimes, programs and activities for children from ages younger than 1 to teenagers.

The St. Clairsville Public Library also continues to expand its services and community events. Volunteers are in the process of scanning local obituaries from 1967 through 1982 and saving them in digital format. They hope to be finished with the project by September. The obituaries will then be complete to the present day.

“They’ve been clipped from various newspapers as a record of people who’ve lived in the area. This will allow them to be searchable so we can scan through all the files if somebody’s doing family history work and wants to find anyone who’s passed away during that timeframe who might be related,” Director Doug Walsh said while thanking the volunteers. “It’s a big help for the library because it is so time consuming.”

At 6 p.m. Feb. 12, the St. Clairsville library will host a presentation by Matt Rapposelli, author of “A Taste of the Hocking Hills,” who will also prepare two dishes from the Hocking Hills area for attendees to try.

The library is also in the process of holding a new series of technical training nights for adults, focusing on creating flyers, business cards and designing Facebook posts using the Canva website. Classes will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19 and March 19.

The library recently hosted an interactive presentation by Courtney Comack of the Schrader Environmental Education Center at Ogelbay Institute. She spoke to young children about the interactions of water on the environment.