Love of books led to library career for Charlene Edwards

Charlene Edwards began her love affair with books as a young child.

Love of books led to library career for Charlene Edwards
February 14
01:30 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Charlene Edwards began her love affair with books as a young child. “Growing up in the country, books took you where you wanted to go,” she said and credited her mother with encouraging her to read.

The first time she walked into the East Winston Malloy-Jordan Branch Library, Edwards said, “I knew I wanted to work at the library.” That was 23 years ago. For the last 20 years she has worked as a library assistant at the Carver School Road Library, beginning the day it first opened.

Edwards related that she has “done a little bit of everything” at the library, including teaching computer classes, working with Girls with a Purpose, organizing author visits and indie-author workshops, but her passion is seniors.

When the library first opened, Edwards noticed a lot of the patrons were older adults. She handed out a survey that showed seniors were interested in getting together. In 1999 she started the seniors group which has met monthly for 20 years. She said they decided to change the name to First Thursday Friends to remind them of the meeting date because seniors are so busy with other activities. The group has had a heart surgeon come speak, held a Mad Hatter Tea Party, and has attended a lecture series at Winston-Salem State University as special guests of Rev. Rodney. They have attended exhibits at Delta Arts Center, had craft days where members shared their creative skills, and are currently planning a Kentucky Derby Day in May.

Their community service includes collecting school supplies for Project Hope. Although the seniors group is mostly women, they would welcome male members.

Edwards also started a writer’s group that meets the second Thursday of each month, and other Thursdays include art and games. One of her proudest moments was organizing a community expo. “We had so many community leaders come out. The kids were so excited! Their number one celebrity was the fire marshall.” Edwards said it was exciting to see the neighborhood come together  – businesses, churches, stores and restaurants – and people of all ages to make it an intergenerational event. She said that many children don’t have grandparents in their lives and opportunities for seniors and youth to share time together is important as they can learn from each other.

Over the past 20 years, Edwards said the biggest change she has seen at the library is in technology. She enjoys teaching computer skills to seniors, whether as a class or one-on-one, and has taught seniors who are in their 90s.

Whether it’s inspiring children to love books, mentoring young women, or encouraging older adults, Edwards is in her element at Carver School Road Library. Melissa Williams, librarian, said, “She is a joy to work with. She puts her heart in everything she does.”

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