Virginia Tech students visit historic Pocahontas Library


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

POCAHONTAS, Va. — Fourteen Virginia Tech students recently visited the Pocahontas Library, went through the yearbooks, wrote in the community journal, signed up for library cards, and praised the internet access, saying it was a huge resource for the community.

The Pocahontas Library, formerly known as the Emma Yates Library, is a part of the Tazewell County Public Library.

"When I was a kid I used to go to my library and hang out there and read books and be exposed to different genres," said Virginia Tech architecture student Andrew Prietto. "If a town didn't have a library, I feel like the younger kids would be missing out on a crucial part of childhood."

Prietto and his classmates are part of a Virginia Tech Community design project. They have visited the Pocahontas Library several times since January. The project, called the Appalachian Futures Lab, is under the direction of Kevin Jones, associate professor in the School of Architecture. The goal, Jones said, is an opportunity for students to get embedded and do experiential learning and community-based work.

While visiting the library, Jones points out Terri Fisher's book "Lost Communities of Virginia." It was this book that spread the story about Pocahontas to the design community. Fisher spoke to Jones' students early in the process. Jones also noted that the historic photos in the library captured the early architecture of Pocahontas.

Savannah Paap, a fourth-year architecture student, said she appreciated the historical resources they were able to browse in the library.

"It's a historical building, and all the connections, like with Emma Yates, and all the historical resources that are there, are really interesting. All the old Pocahontas [High School] yearbooks — we found that really interesting," Paap said.

Paap said she also saw the library as a historic example of how many small towns built a commercial space with a residential dwelling above it — a feature that is included in the students' designs that will support economic development and help preserve the historic Appalachian community. Paap says even after she graduates, she will be back to visit.

The Pocahontas Library is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday. The library provides access to free WiFi, office services, and children's programs. Learn more by visiting the library's website:

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