How We Got Here

The ESPL Board of Trustees and concerned citizens identified the need for a regional library over a decade ago. The Accomac facility, built in 1965 and expanded in 1984, is woefully inadequate. It fails to meet the majority of Virginia library standards for communities of similar size. Expensive building repairs are overdue, including fixing roof leaks, upgrading heating and air conditioning systems, bringing electrical systems up to code, replacing the septic drain field, assuring the safety of the well water, replacing flooring, painting the interior, and replacing ceiling tiles.   Paying for these current maintenance issues is draining funds which should be used for purchasing books and other materials and for providing programs.

There are different types of people this library will service. You will have Mexicans. You will have Haitians. You will have Asians. In ALL libraries. But this library will have MORE than the normal library. The library will have to help them adapt. To help them learn to read English and to speak English. This will help them to go out and get better jobs and improve their lives.
— Jim Eichelberger, Mayor of Parksley

At 11,000 square feet, the current ESPL headquarters is approximately half the size recommended by Virginia.  Some books are shelved two-deep and there is very little room for new materials. Computer terminals and reading spaces are crowded. There is no public meeting room and there are no rooms for study or tutoring. Space for administration and offices is very limited, and, as described below in “The Importance of the Regional Library for Other Shore Libraries”, this administrative space is necessary for the entire regional library system.  In addition, the building is dark, drab and uninviting, doing little to inspire visitation or interest in reading. A public library should be a destination for lifetime learning and public conversation, and a comfortable, welcoming space is a prerequisite for this.

The Eastern Shore Room at ESPL is a treasure of historical and genealogical materials of local, Virginia and even national importance. The collection has far exceeded the space available and there is not enough room for patrons to use the materials to do research. The room needs climate control and security measures to protect the materials.