Children who visit Catawba Meadows Park will find something new to entertain them. 

The Burke County Public Library, with support from the Library Foundation of Burke County and a grant from the Burke Women’s Fund, recently partnered with the Morganton Parks and Recreation Department to install a story-walk near the playground at Catawba Meadows Park, according to Jim Wilson, the library’s director. 

The story-walk is a series of 19 Plexiglass panels attached to posts, each representing a page in a story book. Children can stroll the story-walk, located along a quarter-mile loop of trail behind the picnic shelters, read the text and study the illustrations on each panel. The panels are interchangeable, and Wilson said the library has books to change out the story-walk every month for the next two years.

“I brought the idea of the story-walk to the foundation after our library staff set up a temporary story-walk at the greenway,” Wilson said. “I think they did that twice, and it was very well received. After that, I looked into what would be needed to set up something permanent, and that's how it got started.”

Members of the foundation thought it was a great idea.

“The beauty of the story-walk is summed up in the logo ‘READ’ (Read, Exercise and Discover),” said Mary Charlotte Safford, a member of the board of directors of the Library Foundation. “Members of the board immediately saw this project as a unique and wonderful opportunity for local families to not only read and discover the wonderful stories found in books, but also walk a quarter mile on our beautiful greenway. The story panels will be changed every month, so children will experience a variety of books while they exercise.”

Safford said the Burke Women’s Fund gave a grant of $4,800 to help with the project.

The Morganton Parks and Recreation Department, under the guidance of Director Rob Winkler, installed the story-walk.

“We were excited to discuss the possibility of the program,” Winkler said. “After speaking to the library staff as to what they had in mind, we knew we could make it happen. We designated the area of the greenway that would work, picked locations that did not interfere with maintenance and installed the posts for the structures.”

The Library Foundation will budget funds in coming years for maintenance and repair of the story-walk, Wilson said. Those wishing to donate funds for the story-walk or other library projects may do so by contacting the library at 828-764-9260.

The Burke County Public Library, the Library Foundation of Burke County and the Morganton Parks and Recreation Department will hold a grand opening of the story-walk and a new “Little Free Library,” a small wooden box on a post that will hold books people can borrow, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the park. 

The celebration will include fun activities for kids, such as face-painting, balloon animals, a scavenger hunt with prizes and refreshments, according to Jean VanNoppen, chair of the Library Foundation board.

“This particular Little Free Library was given by the family of Lee Collett Wilson, who was an avid reader,” VanNoppen said. “They wanted to honor her and her love of reading by making books more readily available. The idea of the LFL is to reach people who may not come to the public library for a variety of reasons.”

The Little Free Library box was created by Wall Lumber Company and is open to anyone in the community looking for a good read. 

“We are excited about both the story-walk and the Little Free Library at Catawba Meadows,” VanNoppen said. “Both encourage literacy and promote a lifelong enjoyment of reading. While the story-walk focuses on children, the Little Free Library has books for all ages, as well as Spanish-language books. With these resources, as well as the park facilities and the greenway, Catawba Meadows is becoming a greater attraction for visitors to our community. I have taken two visiting families there who are thinking about a possible move to our area.”

Safford expressed appreciation for the recreation department’s involvement in both projects.

“The story-walk and the Little Free Library on the greenway, as well as the library at the Mountain View Recreation Center, would not have been possible without the approval and support of the city and the Morganton Parks and Recreation Department,” Safford said.

Winkler said the story-walk is a great addition to the park.

“We hope that our visitors will be able to spend quality time with their children or grandchildren on our beautiful greenway,” he said. “It will give them the opportunity to share the gift of reading and gain some exercise as well. Education and exercise (are) items we all need more of."

Staff Writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at

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