Carla Lewis will retire this week from her post at the Gainsboro library, which under her watch has become a magnet for people from all quadrants of the city.
Carla Lewis has reached out to young people during her 36 years at the Gainsboro library. After she retires, she will continue to mentor youngsters at Apple Ridge Farm, a nonprofit camp founded by her husband for at-risk children.
After decades of nurturing the vision of Gainsboro’s first librarian, Carla Lewis is leaving her post with her career goal accomplished: The legacy of library matriarch Virginia Y. Lee is fully intact.
But quietly and humbly and with an elegance that has come to define the Gainsboro branch of the Roanoke Public Libraries — a shining star of the system and black Roanoke’s intellectual hub — Lewis, 60, has arguably made an even deeper imprint than her predecessor.
She’s overseen a tripling of the collection and a near-doubling of the space.
She’s documented the oral histories of aging black leaders, made the library a magnet for people from all quadrants of the city and mentored untold numbers of young people — including Salena Sullivan, whose admission to Harvard University last year she personally helped steer.
She’s launched a monthly salon on topics as diverse as buying your first house, nutrition, great books and love.
Gainsboro librarian Carla Lewis (right) helps Samantha Barnett, a library substitute, find a DVD. In the 36 years Lewis has held her post, she has overseen a tripling of the library's collection and a near-doubling of its space.
When she retires on Thursday, tears will be shed. Regular patrons will line up to offer testimonials.
Teenage boys will take one more look at the lady who can shush them with a mere turn of her gorgeous head of hair — and fall in love all over again.
The library’s mom is turning in the keys to her beloved Gainsboro building. But her spirit will long linger amid its stacks.
Mrs. Lee’s legacy
She’s going home to the country, though it’s not the rural North Carolina farmland of her youth. Lewis plans to retreat to the 90-acre Floyd County farm she shares with her husband, Peter Lewis, the founder, groundskeeper and director of Apple Ridge Farm, the nonprofit camp for at-risk kids. Continue reading Gainsboro librarian leaves a lasting legacy