As most of you know, Central Library has now shut down. We are on a tight schedule to move the NC Room to the County Government Center, with the goal of reopening early in November.

We have about 37,000 books and about 35,000 other items. Since the available space in our new temporary home is much smaller than what we have now, only a small percentage of those items will be going with us. Decisions must be made as to what those items will be.

We will also have a second accessible space in the former county Environmental Affairs building on East Fifth Street where we will be able to offer one day service for the items stored there. The remainder will be boxed and stored until we reopen in our new permanent space…we hope within two years.

So for the past two days, we have been sorting and boxing books. I spent part of today in our locked cage where our oldest and rarest books are kept, pulling books that will join us at the Government Center. This sort of thing is not fun, but it is good for us in a way, because with so many items on hand, no one can ever “know” the collection fully.

Today turned up many surprises, among them two books, one from the 19th century, the other from the early 20th century, that could serve as a primer for becoming a tobacco farmer. Right next to them was a tiny booklet, published by a professor at the University of Miami in 1915, warning about the dangers of consuming tobacco products. It had a little chart that showed the life expectancy of a regular tobacco user as being 57 years, while a non-user could expect to live to be 81.

It correctly stated that using tobacco products could cause heart attacks, stroke and lung problems, but it had the science all wrong. In fact, it blamed only nicotine for those problems, and for virtually every other ailment known to man…somewhat reminiscent of the bad science we are currently seeing in the press regarding Ebola.

Another surprise was a book published in 1962  to commemorate the 100th birthday of First Presbyterian Church downtown on Cherry Street. It was written by two legendary personages, Twin City Sentinel reporter and editor Bill East, and Mary C. Wiley, the daughter of Calvin Wiley, the first superintendent of public instruction in North Carolina, for whom Wiley School is named. Miss Mary, as she was known, was the first head of the English department at the Winston-Salem High School and its successor, R.J. Reynolds High School, where she taught for many years. She also published a column in the Winston-Salem Journal for several decades.

The book is crammed with information about every aspect of the church from its founding in 1862 up through the 100th anniversary. But the part that I liked best was the pictures, which I could not resist scanning and reproducing here. I don’t have time right now to delve into the actual history, and the First Presbyterian website does not provide a history either. But two years ago, First Presbyterian celebrated its 150th birthday and free lancer Kathy Norcross Watts, wife of our county manager Dudley Watts, published an excellent overview in the Winston-Salem Journal, which you can read here:  First Presbyterian Church celebrates 150 years of faithfulness



First Presbyterian was organized at the home of Thomas Johnston Wilson on North Main Street in Winston. “TJ”, as he was known, lived there before the town of Winston was formed. He was a lawyer, a judge, a merchant, a mayor of the town and served as president of the group that brought the first railroad line to Winston, the single most important local event of the 19th century.





When Caldwell died in 1904, the young men of the church built a Sunday school addition in his memory