When the historic, 1867 Silver City schoolhouse burned to the ground in 2004, the community found itself without a library. But not for long.
Quest Lakes, a resident in Silver City for the past 15 years, turned it into an opportunity, transforming the library from a collection of mostly paperbacks into an array of more than 600 titles.
"Silver City is a book-loving community," Lakes said. "We have a lot of people here with master's and doctorate's, and there's a lot of self-educated books lovers. Most communities you go to, people don't just sit around and read."
However, it's in an unusual location: Silver City's Volunteer Fire Department on High Street - which poses some difficulties, such as lack of space.
Lakes would like to display the entire collection of books, but is content with switching books in and out to keep them changing.
"The firefighters are really nice. They have a loft, and they're letting us store books up there," she said "My own house is covered with donations."
Only about a third of the books are on display. The library, which is open during public meetings (held in the firehouse), has a sofa and two cozy chairs. A computer is set up for Internet access, and several more donated computers components will make for a small lab.
Storey County School Libraries donated many books to the library, some of which, Lakes discovered, are first editions which she is trying to sell on eBay. Many are late 1800s and early 1900s books. Anyone interested in purchasing books should call her at 847-0742.
All money goes to the Silver City Library to purchase items like printer ink, bookshelves and magazine holders.
There are four large, vertical windows in the library, and a television allows videos and DVDs to be played in one corner. A windowsill near the children's collection, which includes pieces like Syd Hof's "Grizzwold," "Aesop's Fables" and Shari Cohen's "Draw Fantasy: Dragons, Centaurs and Other Mythological Characters," is host to several plastic dinosaurs. A globe is nearby.
"The fantasy titles have been very popular with the kids," Lakes said. "The adults seem to be pulling a lot from history and contemporary fiction."
Starting Jan. 8, the library will be open 2-4 p.m. Sundays, and coffee will be served. Lakes is hoping to host tutoring sessions, poetry readings and book clubs. Next on her list of accomplishments is to add the Civil War collection donated by resident Cherrie Welling in honor of her Marine Corps son.
The facility has unique features found in few other libraries - books are taken out on an honor system, and patrons can keep them for two to three months. The library is only open to Silver City residents.
Lakes is anxious for the community center to be built - at one time the hope was summer 2006, but she's not sure when now - so the entire collection can be displayed.
"The library will be a lot bigger when we have a community center," she said.
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.