Calera library sees light

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Janet Greathouse is persistent.

For the past year, the director of the Calera Public Library has waited for city leaders to tell her that she can proceed with plans for a new library. As familiar as the pledge of allegiance at each council meeting, Greathouse’s face has stared back at council members and Mayor George Roy.

Demands for a new library had to contend with a new sewage system for the city, as well as a tight city budget.

Now, city council members have granted her $2 million to build the new library adjacent to Oliver Park on Highway 25.

&uot;Since 2001, I have been dreaming of a new library,&uot; Greathouse said.

To help make sure the new library meets patrons’ needs, Greathouse visited libraries throughout the region, checking out different designs and facilities.

Since 1991, Greathouse has served as director of the Calera Public Library.

As the rapidly-expanding city’s population grew, so did the demands at the library. Magazine racks encroached upon windows, blocking sunlight from the building. Readers hovered beside bookshelves due to few seats. Patrons waited for computers.

Greathouse has visions of a new library set to open as early as fall on the same property where Calera High School football players scamper for touchdowns and student athletes dream of Super Bowl victory speeches.

The new Calera Public Library will feature four times as much room as the old one. Greathouse said construction bids will go out this month and construction could begin this spring.

Currently, only one full-time and three part-time staff members work at the library. Greathouse said she will need twice as many to staff the new library.

She thinks the number of patrons will increase, and the library will stay open an hour later – until 8 p.m.

&uot;I certainly hope so. I think there’s an advantage to being by Oliver Park,&uot; she said.

Brenda Presly, assistant librarian for the Calera Public Library, has worked at the library for 15 years.

Presly said she is anxious to move into the new building this year so that the library’s role can grow and improve in Calera.

&uot;I just look forward to having more room, more computers, where we can help our patrons a lot better than we are here. We’re kind of cramped,&uot; she said. &uot;I think we’ll be able to offer them a lot more.&uot;

According to Presly, Greathouse has helped city officials know what the library’s needs are.

&uot;Ms. Greathouse has been a real good instigator in all of this, telling them what we need,&uot; Presley said. &uot;Working at the library-we know what we need. She steered them in the right direction.&uot;

Presley has lived in Calera all of her life and said the library offers a personal atmosphere that patrons seem to enjoy.

&uot;I know most of the faces that come in here. I like talking to them,&uot; Presley said. &uot;We’re (Librarians are) kind of like the bartender. Some tell us all of their problems. Of course, we don’t solve all of them.

&uot;I think we play a very important role in the city,&uot; she said.

The new library will result from 23 meetings of the library board and architects that took place during 2003.

The five board members brainstormed and came up with architectural ideas. The library board also developed a second phase of construction to meet future facility needs.

&uot;The city has been kind enough to give us property for future growth,&uot; Greathouse said.

The new library will feature technology such as a self-checkout counter and a wireless area. It will also have two conference rooms and two tutor rooms