Moak serves community through local library

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, August 1, 2013

      In the 1950’s the Lincoln County Library consisted of one room in the old city hall. Now, a part of a three-county regional library system, the Lincoln County Library not only is housed in its own building but has expanded to encompass much more than just books. And there to witness it all was Tom Moak, longtime board member.

     Beginning in 1956, Moak served his community by working to better the local library. When he first was asked to serve on the board, he started to say that he did not have enough time, but he received some important advice.

     “If you don’t have time to serve your community, you’re too busy,” Moak quoted.

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     And from there the rest was history.

     In 1965, the library moved from the old city hall to its present location. Moak said they were discussing the need at a library board meeting. The library would need help with funds from the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors. Someone realized the supervisors were meeting at that exact time, so Moak went over immediately to present their need to the board.

     “I don’t know how I was so convincing, but they said jump on it,” he said.

     The money provided by the board of supervisors was matched with grant money, and soon they zeroed in on a corner of the Whitworth College campus. But finding the money was not the only way Moak helped the library.

     Over his 55 years of service, Moak worked tirelessly to make sure the library was the best it could be.

     Moak was determined to ensure that the library stayed up to date with the latest trends and helped to expand the library to include computers, movies and the genealogy and archives department.

     Henry Ledet, library director, said Moak’s dedication to the building helped maintain it throughout the years. Moak, who by trade was in the hardware business, was always the first person Ledet or the board would go to with a problem.

     “He was so knowledgeable about the building,” Ledet said. “I never met anyone that worked harder than Mr. Moak would.”

     Ledet recalled an incident where the roof at the library began to leak. Moak was there with a mop and shop-vac working to help clean it up.

     “There aren’t a lot of people that would do that,” he said.

     But what Ledet most appreciates him for is teaching him how to better serve the community.

     “He was my mentor,” he said. “He really helped me learn a lot about how to relate to the community.”

     Moak’s ability to relate to the community played a pivotal role in his time served on the board.

     “He really had a knack for communicating with people,” Ledet said. “He could talk to people the way they wanted to be talked to.”

     His communication skills allowed him to figure out what the community needed in the library and pull the strings to make it happen. Ledet said Moak was important in pulling together the regional library system with Lawrence and Franklin counties and doubling the size of the library in 1999.

     In the 1950’s the library served 10 to 15 people a day. Today, that has increased to 200 or 300 people a day. For Moak, this marks the success of the library’s expansion.

     But what Moak remembers the most about his time on the board are the people he was able to work with.

     “Being on the library board allowed me to meet a lot of nice folks,” Moak said.

     And the people he worked with will continue to carry on his dedication to the community.

      “When I think of what the spirit of Brookhaven is, I think of Tom Moak,” Ledet said.