Op-Ed: MCPL Director Peggy Gold retires leaving a “Mother Theresa” sized hole

By Jill Rael, Mulberry| Former President of the TN Library Association and Former Assistant Regional Director

Moore County Public Library Director Peggy Gold retired on January 1 after 25 years of service to her community. (File Photo)

As Moore Countians rang in the new year, the community also bid a heartfelt farewell to long-time library director, Peggy Gold. After 25 years of service, “Miss Peggy,” as she is affectionately known, officially began her retirement on January 1. In tribute to her service, I am grateful to The Lynchburg Times for this platform through which to share a small piece of Miss Peggy’s story and the impacts she made upon this community and the broader collective of Tennessee libraries.

After eight years on staff at the Moore County Public Library (MCPL), the governing board appointed Peggy as director, a position she held for over 17 years. During her tenure, Peggy completed the Public Library Management Institute in 2006, a three-year intensive program offered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), which trains and educates library directors without a master’s in library science degrees. To further complement her training and advance her skillset, Peggy completed an associate’s degree at Motlow State Community College in 2008 and continued to earn a bachelor’s degree in human resources management and personnel administration at Athens State University in 2010 (Suma Cum Laude).

Like all effective leaders, Peggy understood her role in the library and the importance of building a team that reflects not only the mission and vision of the library board but also the attitude of unyielding service, compassion, and dedication to free and equal access to information so ingrained in a librarian’s heart and soul. With these tenants of librarianship, Miss Peggy created an environment where her staff openly expressed ideas, received trust and encouragement, and offered enriching programs to the community.

A primary example of the unique and empowering programs hosted by MCPL is the Finding My Family genealogical project for local elementary-aged children. It was a personal favorite of Peggy’s. Finding My Family provided participants with an opportunity to discover their roots under the guidance of Miss Peggy and the outstanding resources provided by MCPL locally, TSLA, and other online and local resources. With their research completed, the children presented their findings to the community through visual displays at the library. Other unique programs are the children’s painting classes, where my own son created his first masterpiece, and the lunchtime speaker series where, for example, local adults like my mother learned of Tennessee’s Drive 55 program that led them to complete their own degrees and certifications.

Most library directors agree that finding ways to partner with their local schools and attracting the interest and participation of teenagers is among the most daunting and intimidating goals for their libraries to accomplish. Yet, Peggy has done so for years. As explained by Moore County Middle School teacher Jonah Deal, “she was the person to call if a student needed school supplies, and she provided a way for our students to also give back.” Students assisted Peggy with gifts during the Angel Tree and back to school supplies programs hosted by MCPL. Through a mutually passionate partnership between MCPL and the Moore County High School Student Council, local youth worked with Peggy to prepare Thanksgiving baskets. Two years ago, Deal reports, the program began with the preparation of 30 baskets, which Peggy delivered. However, with the uncertainties and chaos of 2020, the students prepared 60 baskets this Thanksgiving. Peggy located those in need and made deliveries. She is, Deal related, “someone who always put others before herself. She was Moore County’s own Mother Teresa.”   

Like most public libraries in Tennessee, MCPL operates under specific laws, regulations, and guidelines overseen by TSLA and administered through the secretary of state’s division. Through its field offices, known as regional libraries, TSLA provides public libraries with specific funding, training, guidance, and generally serves as a consultant to directors and boards. MCPL is a part of the Stones River Regional Library, which operates from offices based in Murfreesboro. The region consists of 26 libraries within 11 counties located as far north as Trousdale, east as Grundy, and south as Franklin. These libraries are large and small, some better funded than others; yet, they all share a passion for their communities. Moore County very often stood as a beacon of possibility within the region. When others felt limited by their small size and even smaller budgets, the accomplishments, innovations, and examples of “embedded librarianship” exhibited by Peggy and her staff afforded state and regional leadership an example of the unique opportunities that only small libraries often possess.

Historically, libraries served a simple purpose: to enrich the lives of those within a community through the lending of books. However, the 21st century library is nothing short of an amazing evolving institution able to provide services and enrichment on seemingly unlimited platforms. Those which continue to not only survive but also succeed possess leadership that understands and embraces the beautiful chaos of our modern existence. These leaders, and their dedicated staff, must possess knowledge of traditional services like reader’s advisory and reference, while also continually learning and adapting to new and ever-changing technology and public expectations. Additionally, those libraries which thrive in today’s world possess the ability and confidence to nimbly and quickly adapt to the spontaneous changes around them. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, state leadership through TSLA and the Tennessee Library Association (TLA) endeavored to provide libraries with ever-changing information and offer guidance on how these most democratic of institutions could continue to safely serve their communities. We received inspiration from libraries like MCPL, which immediately began offering a full range of services remotely and through contactless curbsides. This tiny library was among the first, perhaps the actual first, in Tennessee to do so and it both inspired and guided many others that followed suit.

When speaking of Peggy the words “inspiration,” “mentor,” and “friend” often find their way into the conversation. “As Jonah Deal put it, “Peggy Gold started off as a librarian to me … then a classmate, then a coworker, but Peggy is going to end as an inspiration.” In a heartfelt note to Peggy on Facebook, MCPL Assistant Director Cheryl Eason said, “[w]e are so sad to lose our mentor, our sometimes mother, our biggest cheerleader, and most of all our friend! … Thank you for seeing something in me that I did not see … Thank you for always seeing the best in people and trying to help when you see a need.” I think so many of us in Moore County share these sentiments. For myself I would like to thank Peggy for just being herself: a great leader with a passion for service and the courage to stand alone, embrace change, and appreciate the unique qualities of those around her. You are, truly, one of the greats. Cheryl perhaps put it best when she said, “Peggy is well named because she truly has a heart of gold.” You leave an indelible mark upon Moore County, and as Lisa Riggs (MCPL staff) put it, “I can only hope we live up to the legacy you left behind.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Due to rising COVID numbers, Moore library returns to curbside services only

LOCAL NEWS — On Monday, the Moore County Public Library (MCPL) announced it would be return to curbside services only “due to a rise of COVID cases in our community.”

All scheduled programs including the Brown Bag Book Club, Story Explorers, and Lil Bookworms were also cancelled until further notice. The library will replace some children’s programming with “Take & Make” activities for patrons.

Need books or movies from the Moore County Public Library? Checkout what’s available in their online catalog, call them with your list. and they will have it ready for you to pickup curbside. (Photo Credit: MCPL)

State health officials feared that a spike in new, active COVID 19 cases could occur following Thanksgiving and their fears are realizing. Since Thanksgiving Day, Moore County has experienced 61 new cases in less than two weeks. That’s an average of over four new cases per day.

According to Director Peggy Gold, the MCPL will still be open to serve its community on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patrons can reserve books and movies by phone and a member of the MCPL staff will deliver them curbside. Faxing and photocopying is still available and laptops and Chromebook can still be checked out with a valid driver’s license. Library staff also reminds locals that the MCPL serves as a community hotspot and free Wi-Fi is always available from the library parking lot.

You can view the Moore County Library’s full catalog by clicking here. For information, contact library staff at 931-759-7285 or visit their Facebook page by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Library is open but sign-ups required for programs

The Moore County Public Library continues to remain open to the public but patrons must sign up for programs ahead of time in order to keep the number of people in the library at one time small. (File Photo)

LOCAL NEWS — Over 8,000 patrons and over 15,000 items circulated. Those are just some of the annual number reported by the Moore County Public Library in their 2019-2020 annual report. Their shelves also boast over 12,000 items and 2,304 local folks registered for library cards.

According to Director Peggy Gold, the Moore County Library is open for business but with a few changes to try and control the number of patrons inside the library at one time to keep folks safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Library staff ask that all patrons enter through the front doors located just off Majors Boulevard. Masks are not required at this time but masks and hand sanitizer will be available when you enter.

“We will continue to host our October scheduled programs but sign-ups are required, again, to control the number of people within the library,” explained Director Gold.

This includes the Brown Bag Book Club, Little Bookworms, and Story Explorers.

Curbside service are also available and free, public WiFi is always available 24/7 in the rear library parking lot. Copies and faxing are also currently available. The Library’s current hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“The last hour of the day is spent cleaning and sanitizing the library in order to keep our patrons and community safe,” says Director Gold.

If you have questions, or would like to sign up for any of the Library’s programming, call 931-759-7285. You can also get daily updates on their Facebook page. Click here for that link. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Students can now earn their high school equivalency virtually in all 95 TN counties

The state of Tennessee recently announced that adult learners in all 95 counties can now acquire their high school equivalency online. (File Photo)

EDUCATION | Learn online. Graduate online. That’s the motto of the new Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development statewide campaign to make adult education available to everyone … especially during the pandemic.

The state of Tennessee recently announced that adult learners in all 95 counties can now acquire their high school equivalency online and Moore County Public Library can help.

“There are still several adult education programs whose classrooms are closed due to COVID-19,” said Jay Baker, interim Assistant Commissioner of Adult Education. “We want everyone interested in improving their math, literacy, and English language skills to know they never have to leave home and they can still work to change their future. And that includes earning a high school equivalency diploma—all of it can be done completely online.”

The Moore County Public Library works as an adult education provider in our area in association with the Lincoln County Literacy Council.

“At this time, it is up to the teacher and student whether they meet face-to-face,” says Moore Library Director Peggy Gold. “But online is an option and if we have a Moore County resident interested, the teacher may be willing to meet them here at the library.”

The online exam is identical to the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)taken in physical testing centers in terms of content, format, on-screen experience, and scoring

“Earning a high school equivalency diploma can really change a person’s life,” Baker added. “An adult who has a diploma can earn much higher wages and unlock more opportunities for education and career advancement.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s HiSET Voucher Program covers all costs associated with the exams. To receive a voucher from a local Adult Education program, a test taker must be a Tennessee resident and demonstrate test preparedness through a qualifying practice test.

To learn more, call the TDLWD at 800-531-1515 and they will connect you with someone at the local adult education provider. You can also contact the Moore County Public Library at 931-759-7285. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Local book club “heads West” with September pick

The MCPL’s Brown Bag Book Club picked The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent as their September read. {Graphic Provided}

EVENTS — The Moore County Public Library Brown Bag Book Club picked a historical fiction for their September read. The local book club will read The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent this month.

The Dallas-based author has authored three best-selling, historical novels including The Heretic’s Daughter, The Traitor’s Wife, and this novel. She say she was inspired to write by reading a lot of Dickens, Poe and James Michener as a child.

Here’s the summary provided by the publisher:

It’s the 19th century on the Gulf Coast, a time of opportunity and lawlessness. After escaping the Texas brothel where she’d been a virtual prisoner, Lucinda Carter heads for Middle Bayou to meet her lover, who has a plan to make them both rich, chasing rumors of a pirate’s buried treasure.

Meanwhile, Nate Cannon, a young Texas policeman with a pure heart and a strong sense of justice, is on the hunt for a ruthless killer named McGill who has claimed the lives of men, women, and even children across the frontier.

Who – if anyone – will survive when their paths finally cross? As Lucinda and Nate’s stories converge, guns are drawn, debts are paid, and Kathleen Kent delivers an unforgettable portrait of a woman who will stop at nothing to make a new life for herself.

Normally the book club meets each Friday at 1 p.m. but there will be no meeting this Friday, September 11. The group ends and begins a new book on the last Friday of each month, so they will discuss The Outcasts on both September 18 and 25.

For more information, visit the Moore County Public Library’s Facebook page or call them at 931-759-7285. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Library: Virtual learners welcome on eLearning Wednesdays

Moore County students will experience their first eLearning Wednesday tomorrow and the Moore County Public Library wants locals to know they are here to help. {File Photo}

LYNCHBURG — eLearning Wednesday’s will kick off tomorrow and the Moore County Public Library (MCPL) wants you to know that they are here to help. On Wednesdays, the library will transform into an virtual learning help center.

Last Wednesday, Moore County Schools announced that all students would learn virtually each Wednesday in order to give teachers a mid week opportunity to catch up from the demands of dual teaching both in person and online as well as get students prepared should COVID force school closures. (Read our full coverage of that decision by clicking here. )

Library staff will provide paper, pencils, as well as tech support for those who feel unsure about the elearning process. Students should come with their passwords in hand as the library staff will not have independent access to this information. The MCLP WiFi is an open network that does not require a password. Parents must remain with their children at all times. Snacks will be allowed but not in carpeted areas.

The library will still follow its social distancing guidelines on eLearning Wednesdays and therefore, spots are limited. All seating will be on a first come, first served basis. Parents who wish to utilize the library on these days should call 931-759-7285 to reserve a spot. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Public library announces new hours

The public library will now close daily at 4 p.m. for cleaning and sanitizing. Currently hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9-11 a.m. {File Photo}

LYNCHBURG — The Moore County Public Library (MCPL) announced recently that they’ve updated their hours to accommodate daily cleaning and sanitizing. It’s an effort to keep the library’s doors open as active COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in Moore County.

The MCPL will now close daily at 4 p.m. for cleaning and sanitizing.

“No exceptions will be made for this critical hour of cleaning time, so please plan your visit accordingly,” their social media page stated.

Currently hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9-11 a.m. The library closes every Thursday and Sunday. If you prefer curbside services, call 931-759-7285.

Library officials remind patrons that hours are subject to change quickly and without notice in order to keep everyone safe. Masks are also available in the lobby if walk in patrons need one. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Library hosts Meet the Author event for native Rodney Syler

LYNCHBURG — The tall hickory saplings, the family farm, and the river that runs through it all. To Moore County readers who pick up a copy of native Rodney Syler’s new book, Yellow Fever, they’ll feel awfully familiar.

Yellow Fever, 274 pages, Archway Publishing

“Growing up in Lynchburg and the surrounding area was very influential,” says Syler. “The JuJu scene came from a few similar rides on tall hickory saplings back on the family farm with brothers or friends. The river in the book seems a bit bigger, but the Elk River it certainly comes to mind.”

Syler will visit the Moore County Public Library on Friday, August 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. for a Meet the Author event. He will bring copies of his novel for purchase and signing.

Set in a rural southern town, the book reminds the reader of the pure fun of imagination-fueled childhood adventure. It’s a nostalgic tale, of Don, Ray, and Amber as they navigate their friendship and the rural county looking for treasure and a sense of belonging. It an engrossing story of resilience and the power of childhood friendships. It’s Home Alone meets Treasure Island with a small town southern twist.  

There’s no doubt that local readers will see familiar images and scenes in his book. Though it’s not set in Moore County, Syler says much of the setting was inspired by a childhood spent hunting, fishing, camping, and working on his family’s farm.

“The cave is a combination of Motlow Cave, Silvertooth Cave, Bishops Cave, Chicken House Cave and a few more,” Syler told The Times. “I expect that even subconsciously, I included familiar local places that shaped the dialog.”

A native of Moore County, Syler hails from the Hurdlow community where he grew up with his parents, Clayton and Maggie Syler, and four siblings Kerry, Rickey, Craig, and Tanya. He graduated from Moore County High School and then attended both Motlow State and MTSU. He worked at Jack Daniel’s Distillery for many years as the assistant production controller.

He now lives in Franklin with is wife, Lisa. The couple have three children and four grandchildren. Syler is also a designer and inventor who holds 13 U.S. patents for various designs.

Yellow Fever is the first in a series, Syler says.•

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Library book club picks The Crane Wife for August read

LYNCHBURG — The Moore County Brown Bag Book Club recently announced they’ll be reading The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness for their August pick.

It’s the retelling of a Japanese folktale. In Ness’s retelling, he imagines how the life of a broken-hearted man might be transformed when he rescues an injured white crane that mysteriously lands in his backyard.

“One night, groggy American expat George finds himself tending to an injured crane that bizarrely appears in his London backyard. The next morning, Kumiko — a quiet, independent woman — soars into George’s life. She vaguely reminds him of the crane and leaves him wondering whether he was dreaming. As if in a storybook, Kumiko brings opportunity, human interaction and love to the lonely man but remains an enigma. George’s yearning to know more about her threatens their relationship and endangers their lives,” their synopsis reads.

The Crane Wife book cover

Ness is a southern-born author who grew up in Hawaii and now lives in London. He has won the Carnegie Medal twice, The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award.

The Brown Bag Book Club meets every Friday at the Moore County Public Library. The group usually ends and begins a new book on the last Friday of each month. However, they will finish this novel early on Friday, August 14 so that they can move on to “the perfect suspense, mystery book,” according to their social media post. We’ll post that pick as soon as they release it. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Library’s book club announces July selection

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler is the Brown Bag Book Club’s July Pick. {Art Provided}

LYNCHBURG — The Moore County Brown Bag Book Club is back at it and they’ll be reading The Book of Speculation by Erika Swylar for their July pick.

The novel follows the life of a young, research librarian with an interesting family tree. His mother – long dead – worked as a circus mermaid and died mysteriously on July 24. One day a book arrives on his doorstep … fragile and water-damaged. It chronicles the life of a traveling carnival owner in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of “mermaids” in Simon’s family have drowned – always on July 24, which is only weeks away. Is his sister next?

According to Publisher’s Weekly, it’s a book, “in the tradition of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. The Book of Speculation – with two-color illustrations by the author – is Erika Swyler’s moving debut novel about the power of books, family, and magic.”

The Brown Bag Book Club meets every Friday at the Moore County Public Library. The group ends and begins a new book on the last Friday of each month. They will begin The Book of Speculation on Friday, June 26. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}