Friends of North Shelby Library’s new president works on image overhaul

Ed Burns, new president of the Friends of the North Shelby Library, knows adversity. He was once a prisoner of war for 18 months during the Korean War.

&uot;After going through that experience there is not too much that I am afraid of&uot; Burns said with a grin.

So when he took over the reigns of the Friends group in March, Burns said he is taking the task of revamping the library’s image head on.

The group works as a fund-raiser for the North Shelby Library, mainly buying books and supplies.

The group under his leadership, Burns said, will also take on a more active public relations role as well.

Burns has a doctorate in psychology. He also has degrees in marine and electronic engineering and a master of business administration. He worked as a psychologist in private practice in New York for the 11 years before moving to Greystone a couple of years ago. Before that he worked in management for a branch of Dupont Company.

In addition to being a veteran of the Korean War as an Air Force pilot, Burns played professional baseball for the Washington Senators in the 1950s.

He said since retirement, he has looked for ways to be involved in the community. He said he only decided to volunteer to take over the reigns of the presidency after it was explained to him the group’s need for leadership.

&uot;It’s my mission to improve this library’s image,&uot; Burns said. &uot;I hate to say it but there has never been any significant public relations done here. The fact is they have always done a poor job getting information out about what this library is all about.&uot;

The North Shelby Library continues to struggle with about a $3 million debt incurred from building expenses. The library was constructed in 1999. Fundraising efforts fell short of the money needed to pay for the more than 26,000 sq. foot building.

Since its inception the library has had to cut staff, reduce their hours and reduce the amount of space used. The library did however in January increase its hours again back to 40 hours per week.

The North Shelby Library is unique in Alabama. It is the only library district. The more than 40,000 North Shelby residents in the district

pay $15 per year to support the library because it receives no state funding.

Two elections to increase the fee, one raising it to $75 and another to raising it to $40 failed.

Voters along Valleydale Road and Greystone, which is in Hoover, voted largely against the increases stating their opposition to supporting both the Hoover and the North Shelby Library.

But Burns said that is the library’s past and he said he and other Library leaders want to start from scratch to gain the public’s support.

&uot;I don’t want to dwell on the negatives,&uot; Burns said. &uot;I’m a positive person.&uot;

One of Burn’s first actions as president was to lower the $35 membership fee to $10.

&uot;$35 was just too high. If we increase our membership, that will give us a pool of volunteers to call from. I want to present the message that you can’t afford not to join our group.&uot;

Burns said another election to increase the fees is inevitable and he wants to make sure residents understand the importance of the library to the community.

Burns said residents need to support the library regardless of taxation saying with the amount of use the library receives a small increase was well worth something something something.

&uot;It’s not the adults who use the library so much, its the kids. If you come here during the summer and see the reading program. It’s the kids who need this library,&uot; Burns said.

Burns said he plans on speaking to as many groups as possible about the library.

&uot;I’m trying to move this library forward. P.R. is a third of the battle,&uot; he said. &uot;If there is a group meeting anywhere, I’m going to try to speak to them.&uot;