First-hand political lesson

Published 3:56 pm Monday, April 19, 2010

On April 8, the Pelham Library Guild hosted a forum for candidates hoping to be Alabama’s next governor.

Pelham Public Library Director Barbara Roberts said. “The League of Women Voters often hosts political forums. Since Shelby County doesn’t have a chapter, the Pelham Library Guild was happy to fill this role of information provider,”said.

Four candidates for the Governor’s office attended, including Ron Sparks, Dr. Robert Bentley, Bill Johnson and James Potts.

The forum was held at Jefferson State Community College and began with a gracious welcome from the college’s president, Dr. Judy Merritt.

“The event was a successful partnership between our local community college, Jeff State, the Pelham Library Guild and students from Pelham High School,” Roberts said.

The six 11th grade students who represented Pelham High School were Samantha Ellis, Casey Nichols, Austin Hancock, Diana Padilla, Van Tong and Brandon Clark. Upon being invited, Austin Hancock said, “Cool, we’ll meet Alabama’s next governor. We just won’t know which candidate that will be.”

The students chose questions about education, health care, libraries and the plans and visions the candidates have for the future.

Roberts said, “I was glad that Bill Johnson got a question about libraries.

“I am in total agreement with him that future libraries will be information centers with a bookstore atmosphere, electronic sources and gathering areas for groups both large and small.”

Reflecting on the high-tech libraries of the future, Roberts said, “I hope there will always be books and story hour.”

Roberts has a vision of our best future, and I hope she’s right.

As necessary as electronic books and sources are, community gatherings are also essential.

In today’s high-tech age, some voters may believe they can choose their gubernatorial candidate based on their Web sites, but my students believed that meeting the candidates personally gave them insight into each candidate’s authenticity.

Our future depends upon our willingness to get involved, take elections seriously and choose our leaders carefully.

Coming out to meet the candidates was an opportunity provided by the Library Guild to make an informed choice.

The Pelham Library Guild is a volunteer organization focusing on library advocacy.

Becoming a member affords opportunities to assist in the improvement of services of the Pelham Library.

Information on joining the Library Guild is available through Library Director Barbara Roberts at 620-6419 or by e-mail at

Connie Nolen is a community columnist who write a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. She be reached by e-mail at