Vincent library a hub for the community

The Vincent Library has a collection of 12,000 books, and offers many services to the city's residents. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

The Vincent Library has a collection of 12,000 books, and offers many services to the city’s residents. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

VINCENT – Tucked away in a corner of southeastern Shelby County, Vincent’s Lallouise Florey McGraw Public Library is much more than just a collection of books.

On any given day, the small brick building constructed in 1966 fronting Alabama 25 in downtown Vincent serves as a meeting place, a connection to the world and sometimes even a means to see and speak to family members serving on the other side of the world in the military.

“We try to keep people active with the library. As long as you keep that cycle going, people will continue to use the library,” librarian Sandra Carden-Berry, the library’s only full-time employee, said during an Aug. 19 interview.

Walking into the front glass doors of the library reveals a sea of books lining the walls and shelves, a computer hub in the middle of the room and a conference room in the back of the building.

The library is on Alabama 25 in downtown Vincent. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

The library is on Alabama 25 in downtown Vincent. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

“We have about 12,000 books right now,” Carden-Berry said. “And if we don’t have something here, we can get it.”

Many of the books at the library are donated by businesses and members of the community. Even if the library already has a copy of a donated book, it does not go to waste.

Carden-Berry always ensures she has books on Vincent’s school reading lists, and offers a range of books on CD and tape.

“I never throw away a book,” Carden-Berry said. “When I get them, I sort them and put them into our system. If we already have a book, we donate it to the jail system for them to use in the jail library.”

Many of the library’s book and technology offerings have been funded by grants from Auburn University, state senators and companies such as Target and Walmart.

Most people who come to the library do so to use the facility’s technology, which includes four desktop computers, four laptops, an Apple computer with a webcam allowing families to Skype with deployed loved ones and reading tablets available for loan.

In a city with a population of slightly more than 2,000 residents, the library offers a way for neighbors to connect.

“We have people who walk three or four miles to get here just to socialize,” Carden-Berry. “We have a group of about 10 or so who will come here to use the computers and socialize.”

For Carden-Berry and part-time library assistant Susan Cleveland, helping others is the most rewarding part of the job.

“A lot of what I do is help the customers who come in. I like that a lot,” Cleveland said. “Just being able to be of assistance to people in need is rewarding.”

The library regularly receives help from local students fulfilling their community service hour requirements, but Carden-Berry said she is always appreciative of help from the community.

“We need more shelves, so we are looking for anyone who can build those,” Carden-Berry said, noting she is also looking for volunteers to help beautify the library’s grounds.

The library currently is wrapping up its summer reading program, and will draw for prizes at the end of the month. To be eligible for the drawing, readers must be a todder-senior in school, must have a library card in good standing and must have checked out and returned five books between July 20-Aug. 30.

For more information about the library, visit or call 672-2749.