Tuscaloosa Public Library


Tuscaloosa Public Library

The Tuscaloosa Public Library is a city/county agency located in the city of Tuscaloosa, serving a population of over 171,000 in Tuscaloosa County in the state of Alabama, USA. The Library has 46,857 registered patrons that use the library on a regular basis--roughly 28% of the population of the county. There are currently over 198,832 items (books, videos, audios, and etc.) cataloged in the system. The library currently has three service outlets: The Main Library, the Brown Branch and the Weaver-Bolden Branch.

History

Main library

An 1879 article in "The Tuscaloosa Times" marks the foundation of a library for Tuscaloosa. J.H. Fitts, Esq., endowed it with a subscription of $50.00 in cash and 100 valuable books. A large number of books belonging to the Young Men's Christian Association were turned over to the library and about 500 books were given by citizens. A "commodious room" housed the library, located over the store formerly occupied by Dr. John Little ("Tuscaloosa Times").

By the early 1900s the library had been relocated to a small one-room affair in the basement of the County Court House. The library soon outgrew the Court House rooms and moved to what is known as "The Old Searcy Home" (at 9th Street and 24th Avenue) in 1926. The library shared space with the County Board of Education. Five of the downstairs rooms were dedicated to the library: two of the rooms were used for office space and library files with the remaining three devoted to book stacks. The monthly appropriation for the library in 1946 was the "pitifully low sum" of $185.00. This stipend was only a slight increase from the 1921 figure of $100.00 per month ("A History"...).

The 1952-53 report showed the phenomenal use of the library by Tuscaloosa citizens by witnessing the increased growth in circulation to 47,335 for adults. The report also notes 29,749 books in the collection with an additional 4,373 items to be added in that year. Some 2,100 books were noted to be worn beyond repair ("A History"...)

The main library soon outgrew the five room space in the Searcy House and was relocated to the historic Jemison House in 1958. The house, a beautiful Italianate villa was built in 1860-1862 and it is listed on the [http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/AL/Tuscaloosa/state.html National Register of Historic Places] . The building was donated by the Friedman family and the library then became known as the Friedman Library. By 1966, the book stock numbered some 59,853 volumes.

Still the library would outgrow even the ornate Friedman building. Mrs. Bessie Sasser, then librarian, launched a massive effort for a new public library building. Located on River Road (now Jack Warner Parkway) the Tuscaloosa Public Library was realized in 1979 after lengthy construction problems and delays.

The library underwent an extensive renovation in 1999-2001, increasing space and modernizing the structure.

The Tuscaloosa Public library on Jack Warner Parkway has continued to serve as the main library until the present.

The Weaver-Bolden branch library

The first branch library, Weaver-Bolden, was established in 1948 under the leadership of Ruth Eaton Cummings Bolden who served as librarian there from its beginning to her retirement in 1975. In 1946, a library opened in three rooms of the community Center, located at 18th Street and 30th Avenue in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Community Center, site of recreational activities and a radio school, was funded through what was then known as the Community Chest (precursor to the United Way) and the Tuscaloosa Religious Association.

Twice a month, the library carried books to county schools in Holly Springs, Coaling, Romulus, Taylorville, Dry Creek and Holt. There was no other library service to African Americans in Tuscaloosa County except at the Northport Technical School.

Tuscaloosa County assumed financial responsibility for operating all recreational programs and the Community Center building was torn down. The library was moved first to the Lutheran Church School, then to a store owned by Mr. Frank Williams. The County appropriated no funds to the library until 1953, when the Tuscaloosa Public Library assumed responsibility for the Library on 18th Street.

Ruth Bolden, the first librarian at the branch, requested that the Library Board name the library in honor of George Weaver, a former civic leader who opened his personal library to area students. In 1960, the present building at 2937 19th Street was constructed and dedicated on February 12, 1961 as the Weaver Branch. In 1990, Ms. Ruth Bolden's name was added, making it the Weaver-Bolden Branch Library. A Community Block Grant funded renovations in 1991 and 2003 ("Bailey, History of the"...)

The Brown branch library

The Brown branch library officially opened its doors on Sunday, September 10, 2006. With 4,000 square feet within the Bobby Miller Activity Center in Taylorville, the branch will offer services as those at Main and the Weaver-Bolden branch. It is located at 300 Bobby Miller Pkwy, next to Taylorville Primary School.

The Brown branch is named after James M. Brown and his sister Marine Brown. James and Marine Brown were the children of Judge James Clinton Brown and Mary Grace Maxwell of Tuscaloosa. James Brown was self-employed as a real estate and property appraiser for most of his career. He was best known for chronicling local news and events as editor for 55 years of the Exchange Club's newsletter, the "Unitor". Marine Brown is best remembered by the students she taught at Stafford and Verner Elementary Schools in Tuscaloosa. After retirement, she taught a class of international students at the Baptist Center at The University of Alabama.

Departments

Readers'Advisory Services

Readers' Advisory Services is located in the main fiction area. Patrons can either be directed to explore particular genres or to locate the next book in a series. The librarians there can draw upon various reference works (print and online) to help patrons with their fiction needs.

Book discussion group

In addition, patrons may sign up at the Readers' Advisory Services desk for monthly book discussion meetings. Members select from a variety of titles suggested by themselves or by the library. The library purchases extra selected books in order to ensure sufficient copies. The Book Discussion Group is a morning group meeting at 10 am, on the last Tuesday of the month. A librarian leads the discussion, guided by a brochure prepared for the occasion. The group may either choose fiction or non-fiction and has covered a great variety of subjects in the past.

Book discussion groups are also held at the Brown Branch on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm and at the Weaver-Bolden Branch on the third Thursday of each month at 5:30 pm.

Youth services

Youth services' materials

*Over 60,000 books, 1500 videos and 500 books-on-cassette
*Various types of children's books:
**Beginning readers
**Picture books
**Chapter books
**Caldecott, Newbery and other award-winning books
**Young adult fiction
**Popular children's magazines
*Accelerated Reading lists from public and private schools in Tuscaloosa County

Programs

Baby Steps

Simple stories, songs, sign language and activities to promote a positive learning experience for ages 0-23 months and their parents/caregivers.

Toddler storytime

Stories, songs, activities, and crafts for ages 24-36 months.

Pre-school storytime

Stories, songs, activities, and crafts for ages 3-5 at the Main, Weaver and Brown libraries.

Family storytime

Family story times are designed for all ages. These programs feature an assortment of storytelling, read-aloud stories, puppetry, singing, readers' theater, poems, finger plays, action activities, crafts, hands-on demonstrations, and more.

Bi-lingual storytime

Once a month programs feature an assortment of storytelling, read-aloud stories, puppetry, singing, readers' theater, poems, finger plays, action activities, crafts, hands-on demonstrations, and more.

Dewey Discovery

Activities and informational stories that cover various non-fiction topics. This program is designed for grades 5 – 7.

Tail Teller Program

Therapy dogs will be available to listen to children practice their reading skills monthly throughout the library locations.

Eco-Make & Take

A monthly system-wide program that features “earth-friendly” crafts for all ages.

Wii Teens

A system-wide program that features Wii gaming for teens aged 12 and up. Activities can include crafts, book discussions, and popular teen oriented events.

Puppet shows

Puppet shows are staged for special events and are regularly staged in the summer.

Teen volunteers

Teens are given an opportunity to spend quality time in the library assisting staff with projects and activities.

ummer Library Program

A series of programs held during the summer months for children and youth. The Summer Library Program is designed to encourage reading during the summer break. Children pledge to read at least 1 book over the course of the program, which usually lasts six weeks. When children register, they each are given reading log to keep track of the books they read during their participation in the program. At the end of the summer children are asked to hand in their reading logs and they are awarded a personalized certificate and a special prize. In addition, past programs have included special guests such as storytellers, scientists, authors, and performers.

Computer lab

The youth computers features over 250 fun and learning games through an online subscription called Games on Demand. Offered system-wide.

Homework alabama

[http://www.homeworkalabama.org "Homeworkalabama.org"] is a free homework help site online daily from 3pm to 10pm, provided by the Alabama Public Library Service. Students interact on a one-to-one connection with a live tutor. "Homeworkalabama.org" covers grades 4 through 12 and introductory college courses. The subject areas covered are: math, science, social studies and English.

Alabama Virtual Library

The [http://www.avl.lib.al.us "Alabama Virtual Library"] (AVL) is a collection of databases providing free access to magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, and other periodical and reference sources of information. The AVL contains a wide range of resources, meeting the information needs of patrons from the primary grades to adulthood. Any Alabama resident may apply for an AVL card through an Alabama public library. The card lists a unique password that allows the patron access to the databases from any internet connection.

Tours

Tours of the Children's Area are available for local schools, daycares, camps, and church groups. Outreach programs are presented at schools, camps, daycares, organizations and businesses such as Barnes & Noble Booksellers. These presentations can include storytelling, booktalking, puppetry, and specialized topics such as summer library promotion and holiday oriented programs.

Accelerated Reader Lists

Also known as the AR lists, the Accelerated Reader Lists are composed of lists of books for accelerated school readers. Local schools provide the lists to the library for their specific programs. Participating schools quiz their students on what they read and award points based on their understanding of the book. Not all county schools are represented and each school is responsible for the content of its list.

Outreach services

Bookmobile

The first bookmobile service began in 1944 and was eventually discontinued in 1958. Bookmobile service resumed again in 1965 only to be discontinued again in 1982. In general, this service waxed and waned with the fortunes of the library. With the arrival of the latest director, the bookmobile service has expanded to two vehicles.

The bookmobile travels throughout Tuscaloosa County. It provides best sellers, mysteries, science fiction, romance, thrillers, westerns, and more. The bookmobile is handicapped accessible and ADA compliant. It travels to over thirty stops in Tuscaloosa County, is equipped with the latest technology and is fully internet accessible ("History and Development"...,1).

Books by Mail

Books by Mail is a free personalized delivery service of library materials to persons confined to their homes due to physical disability, extended illness, or unusual transportation problems. Every two months a catalog is mailed to each Books by Mail patron. The books requested are sent by mail along with return postage. Patrons can also request any other circulating library materials.

Deposit collections

Deposit collections are small reading collections maintained in various institutions and facilities throughout Tuscaloosa County. The library delivers a selection of books to a facility and exchanges them every two months. Each collection can be tailored to the preferences and needs of the readers. This service is available to nursing homes, retirement homes, and senior citizen day program sites. Any long or short term residential facility, etc. may apply for a deposit collection.

Tuscaloosa Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Also known as the Talking Books and Braille Library, the Tuscaloosa Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was established on July 1, 1974 (Jordan, 1). It is part of a nation-wide network of cooperating libraries serving people for whom conventional print is a barrier (Outreach, 3). This free library service is administered and funded by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress and the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Currently, the Subregional has 180 active patrons with an average monthly circulation of 400 (2).

Services offered by the Subregional:

* Loan of Talking Books (15,000 in-house titles and over 50,000 other titles available through inter-library loan).
* Loan of special playback equipment and accessories needed to use these special books.
* Special receivers to access the WUAL Radio Reading Service that broadcasts daily readings of local newspapers and other publications of interest.
* Audio and Braille magazine subscription service.
* Interlibrary loan service for Braille patrons.
* Assistance with applications and referrals to other agencies and services for the blind and physically handicapped.
* Home visits for those unable to come to the library.
* Educational programs for schools, civic, service and other organizations.
* Program kits for use by activity directors who work with seniors in senior centers, residential centers and institutions.
* The Helen Keller Collection. Comprehensive print book collection available for library research. Special packets given to students and teachers studying Helen Keller (Jordan, 2).

Reference

The Reference Department (the actual formal name being the Harrison Information Center) provides assistance to patrons in locating information. The reference collection consists of thousands of titles comprised of individual works as well as general and subject-specific sets of encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories and other items.

pecial collections

Archives

The Archive room houses materials considered too fragile for general browsing.It includes:
*Tuscaloosa city directories from the years 1929-2004.
*Tuscaloosa phone directories from 1948-2004.
*Tuscaloosa cross reference directories from 1966--2004.
*American Funeral Record (local) from 1905-1925.
*Casket sales (local) from November 1907-March 1926.
*"Records of Jones and Rogers Funeral Home" April 1912--May 1919.
*"The Graphic" (local newspaper) bound print materials from September 1958--February 1988.
*"The Tuscaloosa News" (local newspaper) bound print materials from 50 years prior current year.

All of the above series will have missing items for several years.

Local history/genealogy

The Local History and Genealogy section holds materials for researchers into history close to home. There are nearly 7000 books on the shelves, concentrating on the Southeast and Alabama, with a special focus on West Central Alabama, the location of Tuscaloosa County. Two genealogical databases, "Ancestry Library Edition" and "Heritage Quest Online" provide numerous links to genealogical information, from census records to death and marriage indexes. Several cabinets contain hundreds of microfilm records on: Alabama census, local counties, Civil War units and African-American genealogy. One cabinet holds the surname files--information gathered on particular family lines. In addition, another vertical file contains hundreds of clippings and other materials on local and state history.

Newspapers on microfilm

Various newspapers are listed on microfilm going back to the 19th century in Tuscaloosa County:
*"Brookwood Herald" 1901--1902
*"Clarion" 1881--1882
*"Crimson White" September 1908--May 5, 1909
*"Daily Times Gazette" January 1--November 5, 1904
*"Flag of the Union" May 21, 1835--May 24, 1837 and Jan. 6, 1841--Dec.29, 1841
*"Independent Monitor" July 24, 1840--Dec. 27, 1871
*"Northport Herald" January 4--December 19 1912
*"Spectator" 1872 and 1874
*"Sunday Sun" 1901
*"Sunday Times" 1897-1898
*"Tuscaloosa American" August 25,1898
*"Tuscaloosa Chronicle" (African American) 1898
*"Tuscaloosa Gazette" Nov. 4, 1875--Jan. 8, 1903
*"Tuscaloosa Journal" March--December 1894 and 1896
*"Tuscaloosa News" 1910-present
*"Tuscaloosa Observer" 1871
*"Tuscaloosa Times" 1872--October 6, 1899
*"Tuscaloosa Times Gazette" November 6, 1904--February 13, 1912
*"Tuscaloosa Times Gazette Weekly" 1907
*"Tuskaloosa Vindicator" October--December, 1892 and January--October 18, 1893.
*"Tuscaloosa Weekly Times" 1900-January 7, 1903 and January 9--May 1, 1907.
*"The Weekly Record" May 2--December 26, 1908
*"West Alabama Breeze" 1889-1909

Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Library is a local volunteer organization whose goal is supporting the Tuscaloosa Public Library in its public mission. On holidays and other special occasions the Friends prepare appreciation snacks and other meals for the staff. Two of its prominent contributions has been operating the Bookstore and Books Sandwiched In.

Books Sandwiched In

Books Sandwiched In is a program put on by the Friends of the Library where books are reviewed by authors or other knowledgeable lecturers.

Bookstore

The Bookstore is where the Friends of the Library sells books and other donated items to the public. The proceeds go to the Tuscaloosa Public Library.

References

*"American Factfinder: The Population Estimate in 2004 for Tuscaloosa, Alabama". August, 2005. U.S. Census Bureau. August 24, 2005 .

*Bailey, Kathy. "History of the Weaver-Bolden Library Branch". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa Public Library, 200?.

*"History and Development of the Library". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa Public Library.

*"A History of Tuscaloosa Public Library". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa Public Library, ? date.

*Jordan, Barbara. "The Tuscaloosa Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa Public Library, 200?

*Baily, Kathy. "Outreach Services: Tuscaloosa Public Library". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa, Public Library, 2005.

*"The Tuscaloosa Library", "The Tuscaloosa Times", Wednesday, April 2, 1879.

*"Tuscaloosa Public Library: Weaver-Bolden Branch Library". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa Public Library, 200?

*"Weaver-Bolden Branch Library: History and Information". Tuscaloosa, AL: Tuscaloosa Public Library, 2002.

External links

* [http://www.apls.state.al.us/ Alabama Public Library Service]
* [http://www.tuscaloosa-library.org Tuscaloosa Public Library]
* [http://www.tuscaloosanews.com Tuscaloosa News]
* [http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/AL/Tuscaloosa/state.html National Register of Historic Places]


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