BUCKHANNON — In continued observation of Women’s History Month, the City of Buckhannon on Thursday recognized Mary Augusta Gibson, the late benefactor of the Charles W. Gibson Library. Gibson’s father was involved in politics, as he was the first mayor of Sutton, West Virginia and was later elected as a State Senator. Originally from Braxton County, Gibson married Charles W. Gibson of Buckhannon and the two resided at 39 Meade Street. Mr. Gibson was a prominent property owner before he passed in 1938.
Just months before her death in 1939, Mrs. Gibson visited attorney James H. Coleman, Jr. to draft her new will. In the will, Mrs. Gibson stated that she bequeathed to the City of Buckhannon the sum of $10,000 for specific purpose of purchasing, erecting or constructing a municipal or city library building to be used as a library for the general public. The Library Board of Directors has accordingly long operated this facility since 1940.
Mrs. Gibson named the library ‘Charles W. Gibson Library’ to honor her late husband – disregarding any personal recognition, even though it was entirely through her generous and giving soul that this facility was created.
The City of Buckhannon recognizes Mary Augusta Gibson as a true heroine to the entire Buckhannon-Upshur community. Throughout her life and through her generous gift to the City of Buckhannon, she was a champion for literacy and culture. With this, generations of the Buckhannon-Upshur community have benefited from and appreciated the books and archives stored within the city’s library.
Over the past 81 years since her passing, Mrs. Gibson has effectively lived on in the shadows of her husband, as the library was designated the Charles W. Gibson Library. But for now, and forever, remember Mary Augusta Gibson for her positive impact on our community and her generous contribution to the City of Buckhannon.
Mayor David McCauley acknowledged the similarities between Mary Augusta Gibson and Joyce Stockert, as both gave generously to the City of Buckhannon, in honor and recognition of their husbands.
On March 19, by the City of Buckhannon, the Gibson Library Board of Directors and Buckhannon’s Diversity Coalition, established the Mary A. Gibson Plaza and plaque in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Cathy Norko, of the Charles W. Gibson Library, came to give a report on behalf of the Library’s Board of Directors. The library had to close its doors temporarily on March 19, by order of the City of Buckhannon, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Norko explained it has received 903 visitors since January and has an overall circulation of approximately 2,800 people. Norko reported 86 percent of their consumers can be attributed to physical usage, while the rest is digital. The library will likely push digital use more in the next few weeks, given the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are still planning for their summer reading program/project.
The library has tripled their number of public access computers, according to Norko. They started with one very old desktop and have improved to three new computers, which are all up to date with Windows software. Norko explained there are currently three employees on staff right now, and they are tirelessly working on decluttering and reorganizing the library. In the next year, she predicts they will likely need window replacements, as well as electrical rewiring and plumbing, which is in the works.