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Literacy outreach continues

RICH SQUARE – A new Little Free Library – the eighth of its kind in Northampton County – was dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the W.S. Creecy School Gym in Rich Square on Sept. 25.

This small library, which offers free books to anyone, was dedicated in memory of Rev. Dr. Paul A. Bishop and his wife, Viola T. Bishop.

A member of the Bishop family places one of the first books inside the Little Free Library. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

The two were long-time educators and leaders in the community. Rev. Dr. Bishop served as pastor of five local churches in addition to serving on several boards including the Shaw University Trustee Board; the Oxford, NC Orphanage Trustee Board; and the Roanoke-Chowan Credit Union. He also helped organize Northampton County’s first bookmobile, and later, the county’s “Negro Branch Library” in Rich Square was named in honor of him in 1959.

Mrs. Viola Bishop was a schoolteacher originally from Washington, DC who moved to Rich Square to teach mathematics. She later served as the first librarian at W.S. Creecy School until her retirement in 1963.

“I’m privileged to be a part of a great legacy of educators, and the educators that are part of the Bishop family,” said Kimberly Bishop Lee at Saturday’s event.

Lee is one of the Bishop’s granddaughters, and she credited her family with passing on the desire to learn.

“It’s our time to step up and do our part,” Lee continued, challenging the community to continue to keep the library box well-stocked. We want to see books stay in the box every day. But we also want to see kids walking up, adults walking up, pulling books out every day.”

She thanked many people, including family members, who provided the first books to stock the box. She also thanked Albemarle Regional Library Director Hugh Davis and Northampton Memorial Library Branch Manager Lillie Pernell.

Shelia Moses welcomes the crowd gathered to witness the opening of the Little Free Library in Rich Square. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

In addition to the Little Free Library now bearing their names, the late Bishops were also celebrated earlier in the day at Northampton Memorial Library in Jackson, where the library’s programming room was renamed in their honor.

Lee’s mother, Dollie Bishop, also spoke at the ribbon-cutting event.

“Today is an outstanding day,” stated Dollie Bishop, who is a daughter-in-law to the late Bishops and was formerly a language arts and literature teacher at W.S. Creecy School. “The students here were very outstanding.”

Mrs. Bishop recited a poem entitled “Myself”, originally written by Edgar Guest, about the importance of leaving behind a legacy you can be proud of. She also had the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon before those in attendance began placing books inside the little library.

“When you pick up a book from us, you do not have to return it,” explained Shelia Moses, a Rich Square native who has been spearheading the Little Free Library project throughout Northampton County. “We want everyone to build their own little media center at home.”

Some of the books in this newest little library were provided by PETA and their “Barks to Books” program, which distributes donated children’s books with animal friendly messages.

“PETA is honored to be a part of this project,” said Rachel Bellis, who serves as PETA’s Manager of Local Affairs. “It’s just been wonderful getting books into the hands of children and adults.”

This is the second Little Free Library PETA has helped to sponsor. The first is one located in Garysburg which was dedicated earlier this year.

The Little Free Library at Creecy School in Rich Square was opened in memory of the late Rev. Dr. Paul A. Bishop and his wife, Viola T. Bishop. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

Bellis explained that the organization decided to reach out to Moses after hearing her speak at a county commissioners’ meeting at the beginning of the year. Moses had attended that meeting to request permission to use the Creecy Gym as the site for the Bishop library.

Moses has been working for a while to get a little free library installed in each township in Northampton County. She got inspiration for the project from the little library in Woodland, which was installed by Barbara Gosney. Moses said she asked if she could continue expanding the project to the rest of the county.

Her goal is to promote easier access to literacy as well as sharing history at the same time. Many of the libraries are named in honor or in memory of people who made an impact on Northampton County.

“We want to honor our ancestors and educators,” Moses explained. “And we want to create conversations between young people.”

She plans for the next little library, potentially to be installed next year, to be named for long-time educator Margaret Burgwyn.

“This is not a project of just African Americans. This is for the entire county,” Moses emphasized.

In addition to the Rev. Dr. Paul A. Bishop and Mrs. Viola T. Bishop Little Free Library at Creecy School Gym, there are also little libraries at the following locations:

Doris Majette Little Free Library at Cuz Mini Market (formerly Majette’s Grocery) in Garysburg,

Braxton’s Little Free Library at Futrell’s Pharmacy in Rich Square,

Woodland’s Little Free Library at Town Hall Park in Woodland,

Grant’s Little Free Library at Salamis Restaurant in Potecasi,

One World, Many Stories Little Free Library at Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson,

Doris Lawson Flythe Little Free Library at Town Hall in Conway, and

Ann Moore’s Little Free Library at Roxobel Grill in Roxobel.