Art-filled walls, plants, murals, lots of natural light, and the overall ambience at the Enka-Candler library create a beacon of creativity, discovery, and inclusivity. Where else in Candler can you listen to local musicians, learn to knit, hang out with a robot dog, and ponder the contents of the locally famous guessing jar? It’s an inviting space teeming with potential. “The staff are very friendly, talented, and funny. The combination of staff and space give the library a warm, creative energy that feels special when you walk in,” says Branch Manager Erin Parcels, who notes an entire half of the building is a renovated community room used for all-ages programming and available to reserve. “We also have access to large print public computers, magnifying sheets, an extensive large-print book collection, assistive listening devices, and many other items available in the library for individuals to utilize to make their experience in our building welcoming and more comfortable.”
With an abundance of offerings, it’s nice to have a space that puts patrons at ease so they can choose their own adventure as to which resources to take advantage of. The building itself is rich with history having once been the community store for the bygone Enka factory, which gives this location an open and refreshing feel. “Our library is so much more than a place for books, it is an inviting space that makes families, children, and humans feel cozy and welcome,” notes Librarian Neela McDade, who explains they are still making use of facility’s original infrastructure. “We have a former meat locker in the back that we use for storage.” And the spirit of the old community store has just evolved into its current iteration. “The community makes our library special, where everyone is welcome and everyone belongs,” exclaims Librarian Layla Nayfeh, who says that community truly comes to life during story times. “It’s one of my favorites. The energy toddlers bring to our library is unbeatable. I love seeing toddlers socializing, and their parents too.”
Like all good community resources, there’s a bit of something for everyone at the Enka-Candler library. From live music to sewing circles and picnic baskets with outdoor activities to a devoted kids’ area, opportunity for discovery abounds. “Being a youth services person, my biggest joy comes from programming with young folks. We have a really wonderful community of kids and parents who are respectful, kind, and really fun,” notes Librarian Kassandra Cumming. “We have so many fun things that happen here. We have musicians who come in regularly to, a muralist here for months creating beautiful art both inside and out, incredible children’s programs that connect to a variety of community partners – there are too many wonderful things to choose just one.”
Piggybacking on the aforementioned potpourri of activities, Librarian Theresa Wallace says it can be hard to pinpoint just one activity that makes the Enka-Candler branch special. “Our make-and-do craft area for kids, the monthly guessing jar, gardening, music programs, and the Hominy Creek Comfort Makers group who knit, stitch, and sew items for cancer patients make this library special,” explains Theresa. She also lists building relationships with the patrons as her favorite part of the job, “I love it when we’re able to help someone find a new genre to read and seeing their faces genuinely light up.”
With so many amazing aesthetics and activities, it’s no wonder this branch is such a draw. In fact, Librarian David Ormsby says it has more of a community center than library feeling. “Patrons really appreciate being able to come in for resources like Wi-Fi, computer access, programs for all ages, and we’re a voting location too,” exclaims David, noting the outdoor jazz concert series is one of his favorite features. He describes the branch as “cozy, inviting, and cheerful” and it’s easy to see how our Enka-Candler staff are leveraging the building and their talents to make this a bright and welcoming space for the entire community.
Enka-Candler Library overview
Hours: Tuesday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Staff: David Ormsby, Erin Parcels, Kassandra Cumming, Layla Nayfeh, Neela McDade, and Theresa Wallace
Resources, services, and offerings: Book clubs, community/meeting room, printing and copying, story times, computer and Wi-Fi access, ongoing used book sale, voting location, and nearby public transit.
Unique services and hidden gems: Drive-through return box, guessing jar, YMCA Mobile Market, picnic baskets available for check out, a letter writing initiative, kids’ craft area, outdoor jazz music series, Puptart – the robot dog for those allergic or scared of real dogs.
Additional thoughts from staff:
- “I think, simply put, it feels good to anyone who walks in. A patron recently told us that they come to the Enka branch because they ‘See their family represented in our books. Who knew that the most radical place in Candler would be the public library?! That is the best feeling in the world!’ We encourage people to ask us questions, which can often feel intimidating for some. Patrons and staff tend to laugh a lot together.” – Erin
- “We are told often that our branch is warm, inviting, and has beautiful natural light.” – Theresa
- “We have a lot of books featuring people of color.” – Neela
- “I get to meet and help people who are eager to find their new reads. Also, I like the sense of comfort the library provides.” – Layla
- “A local artist painted a full-scale wall mural of local flora and fauna, and we have a seek and find so people can learn our native species and animals.” -- David
- “Our branch attracts a variety of people for many reasons:
- 1 It is a very friendly environment and people enjoy coming here to socialize with staff and each other
- 2 It is a refreshing space with lots of plants creating oxygen, natural light streaming through the plentiful windows, comfortable seating, accommodations for people with disabilities, engaging displays, and interesting artwork.
- 3. People come in regularly to utilize the meeting room which is spacious and has tech that is easy to use
- 4. Storytimes and other programs are always a hit!
- 5. Our collection is well maintained – regularly weeded and full of much-wanted items including things beyond books.” -- Kassandra