Library finally reopening

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, June 22, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Atmore bookworms save your gas.
The Atmore Public Library is finally reopening.
Tuesday afternoon, director Joyce Bolden announced that the library would finally re-open its doors following extensive repairs made necessary by Hurricane Ivan.
"We're very excited," Bolden said. "We have so many people calling and coming by here asking for directions to Flomaton and Bay Minette libraries. They need to use the internet for testing and stuff like that and they're real disappointed that we're not open. We have skills tests on our computers now for the students and it really helps them with all their school work. Any particular subject they need for school, they can get on a skills test."
The library will re-open at 10 a.m. on July 11 just five days shy of being closed 10 months.
"We were thinking of having our grand re-opening on Sept. 16, a year after closing, but I said we needed to hurry up because of the public," Bolden said. "We're really pushing now to re-open. We all love to work with the public. We miss our patrons. We've had some patrons that have been with us the 30 years we've been here. We're just anxious to re-open."
Library board member John Garrard, who has served on the board for 43 years, believes the library's opening will be a huge step for the City of Atmore as it continues to put the pieces back together following Hurricane Ivan.
"It's one of the greatest things that has happened in Atmore since the hurricane," he said. "The library means so much to so many children, college students, young people, old people and people that receive books by mail. Without a library the town has been dead. This will help us come back to life. It gives the staff a chance for the staff get back to work and for the city to move forward. I'm so very pleased."
During the next two and half weeks, the finishing touches will be applied to the exterior and interior of the library. Making those repairs won't be an easy task though.
"There's just so much," Bolden said. "We still have roof leaks, sections to be repainted, windows to be caulked, some wiring that they (contractors) were waiting to finish until the roof was completed."
Not only is there still structural repairs to be made, but Bolden said there's a lot of cleaning left to do.
"We still have to get the tape off the windows and get them cleaned," she explained. "We also want to power wash the building, but we can't do that until they're through with the roof. We need to power wash the sidewalks as well."
In addition to all the repairs, Bolden and her staff will continue to re-order and label new books to replace those discarded due to water damage. They will also continue to shuffle through the library's old books to dispose of the ones that may have been overlooked during the initial cleanup process.
No matter how much work is left to be done, Bolden said the wait can not continue.
"We are going to open, we can't keep waiting. We are ready now. We're still ordering some new books and still weeding out damaged books from the collection."
Atmore Mayor Howard Shell is happy to see that the wait is finally over.
"We were very fortunate that we were able to get a good construction firm in and start with work on the library quickly," he said. They (library staff) were able to salvage a large amount of the books that we had and are in the process of purchasing new ones. We've had a number of people in town ask when the library is going to open and now that it is opening, it will provide that benefit that so many people in town have grown accustom to and take advantage of. We are so proud that it is opening again."
Bolden said that she is disappointed that the summer reading program had to be cancelled due to construction, but hopes the library being reopened will still attract youth from the area.
"A lot of the children are avid book readers and this is the first summer we haven't had our summer reading program and they've been really disappointed that they can't come get their books," she said. "We just need to open the library."
Dot Faircloth, a retired teacher and library board member for 28 years, is thankful that the library will finally be operational again because how much it means to those who don't have access to books and computer in their own homes.
"It's been a part of my life for many years and having served on the board, I know how much the library means to the people of Atmore. It's a community information center. We offer so many areas of learning to all ages. To me it's an asset to this community that so many people have missed since Ivan destroyed it so badly. I think we have a facility equal to so many larger cities."
The library's hours of operation will be 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

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