What was bringing 1,200 people and police to the library on Old Trolley Road on July 31?

It was a 10-hour-long Harry Potter celebration.

The police were there to help ensure safe traffic patterns. That’s something the community-centered Summerville Library, the George H. Seago Jr., Branch of Dorchester County does; through free informative and entertaining programs, it provides patrons a comfortable feeling of belonging.

Also helping to keep us connected is the new Website (www.dorchesterlibrarysc.org), thanks to the collective expertise of Robert Antill, executive director; Jenn Gleber, marketing manager; Kathy Walters, IT manager; and Leslie Koller, emerging technologies.

Harry Potter’s birthday celebration at Summerville library is just one of hundreds of programs offered by Dorchester County Library system. (The new annual report for 2018-2019 shows nearly a thousand programs occurred with about 20,000 attendees.)

Teen Services Librarian

Elizabeth Neal (eneal@dorchesterlibrarysc.org) is one of the newer members of the library’s staff.

Growing up in Summerville, Neal volunteered at the library as a rising high school junior. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature at Clemson University, working as a youth ministry director in Wahalla, and then for the Charleston County government, Neal realized she wanted to become a librarian.

That, she did in 2018 (through the MLIS program at the University of South Carolina) and began volunteering at Summerville Library again. Hearing of the young adult librarian opening, Neal applied.

She refers to her position as “my dream job.” It’s obvious her life changed at the library where she now helps others, particularly teens, to change theirs.

For instance, she, along with colleagues and the Friends of Summerville Library, helped to make the recent Harry Potter celebration an inter-generational success.

Neal remembers her father reading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (the first in the fantasy series written by J. K. Rowling) and suggesting she do so.

Admittedly, one who “judges a book by its cover,” the young Neal did not read it until the first Potter movie was made and the fourth book in the series was released.

She was 10, the same age as Harry and the main characters at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Neal read and reread the books, especially “Prisoner of Azkaban,” which fell apart from the attention she gave it. She was delighted to use its pages at the Potter festival; thus, another chance to “share its magic.”

Neal attributes the Potter books and the spinoffs from them (e.g. theme park, podcasts, etc.) as a means to bring people together.

She refers to the celebration at the library as a sharing that, for her, was a “dream come true.” Plans are already underway for another Potter celebration next summer. Until then, connect with the new Website. See what else is new at your library.

Ellen E. Hyatt, “recovering” professor of English, is a writer of poetry and nonfiction. She serves on the Board of Governors of the SC Academy of Authors and as liaison between Friends of Summerville Library and Journal Scene.