Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to [email protected].

The Rowan Public Library’s yet-to-be-opened branch in Cleveland will host summer reading programs this year, but its official, full opening remains delayed by the pandemic.

Melissa Oleen, director of the Rowan Public Library system, says staff members are still waiting for permanent shelving and furniture to arrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has produced health and economic crises, but it’s also produced supply chain problems for local libraries.

“We don’t want anybody to be disappointed … but they are coming,” Oleen said about undelivered interior furnishings.

Readers have been eager to see the opening of the West Branch of Rowan Public Library, asking questions about its status for the Post’s Ask Us feature multiple times. For now, the West Branch will use repurposed and used furniture to make summer reading programs possible at the new facility. Oleen said she’s hired a full-time librarian for the new branch and recruiting for a full-time associate. The West Branch will also have two part-time, benefited associates.

Oleen said she’s hoping to receive updates this week that could produce a soft opening date. Afterward, she said, there will be some in-person programs. Some programs will be held outside or involve take-away kits.

Oleen said the library will hold off on a formal opening celebration until pandemic conditions allow it.

The new branch uses the former Cleveland Elementary School’s media center and auditorium. The school was partially demolished in 2019 and renovated after students from Cleveland and Woodleaf elementariness were combined in the new, nearby West Rowan Elementary School.

Funding to renovate some of the remaining elementary school buildings came from county government, library groups and the town of Cleveland. Previously, a one-room library operated out of a former doctor’s office next to Cleveland Town Hall.

Another portion of the remaining school was set aside for an EMS station.

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