New chapter

Amanda Borden embraces new tasks as the director of the Hoover Public Library

 

Written by Emily Sparacino

Photos by Dawn Harrison

 

Before Amanda Borden transitioned into the executive director role at the Hoover Public Library in January, her predecessor, Linda Andrews, advised her to make sure she hired the right people for each position.

“She felt strongly about hiring the right people for the positions,” Borden said of Andrews.

Andrews, who retired in December, can relax knowing the library rests in the capable leadership of Borden, a longtime member of the Hoover Public Library staff.

Borden attended Judson College and then graduate school in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Alabama.

Borden interned at the Hoover Public Library in 1993. She worked at the Birmingham Public Library for six years, followed by the Pelham Public Library for two years.

In 2001, she was hired as the Hoover Public Library’s Children’s Department coordinator, and in 2006, she was promoted to one of two assistant directors.

On Jan. 1, Borden officially became executive director.

Since then, time has “completely flown by” for Borden, who is tasked with overseeing all of the library’s moving parts on a daily basis.

“The days pass by so quickly,” she said. “It’s an exciting time for me. It’s all so fun.”

In March, Borden started working on the library’s long-range strategic plan, which will include input from the community.

Planting “service outlets,” or satellite library campuses around the city, is something Borden wants to see happen in the next 10 years.

“One of the biggest priorities is to branch out,” Borden said. “Our city has grown – our population, our land mass. We would like to have service outlets throughout the city.”

Borden said the service outlets of the library would serve areas like Greystone that are farthest away from the main library campus.

Borden said the library wants to continue to be a center for the arts and community events.

“We did sort of become a third space where people come to hang out,” she said. “We were very fortunate to ride that wave.”

The library currently houses a performing arts center, East 58 Café on the Plaza, a bookstore and multiple rooms and spaces for weekly programming and visitors looking for a quiet place to read.

“I also want to see us have more spaces for the public,” Borden said, and mentioned private workspaces, a maker’s space and a business center.

Technology has shaped the library’s service model over the years, and it continues to affect how patrons consume materials.

“Most things are now web-based,” Borden said. “Part of our outreach now is social media. Our digital offerings have exploded.”

E-books, audiobooks and databases that allow patrons to read newspapers are popular, as well as BrainHQ, an online system designed to give the mind a boost through exercises in areas including attention, brain speed, memory, intelligence, people skills and navigation.

“It’s always critical we do everything we can to stay relevant,” Borden said. “We have to be in tune. If the public is responsive to it, we’re happy.”

Even with the digital offerings, however, the library’s circulation of print materials has not decreased much, Borden said.

In 2016, 546,000 people came to the library, which circulated 1,437,316 books, a 1-percent increase from 2015.

The meeting rooms were used 367 times, with attendance at 7,394.

The library held 1,207 programs that reached 75,223 people.

The Library Theatre celebrated its 25th season last year with performances by Marc Cohn, Dailey & Vincent, Rhythmic Circus, Molly Ringwald, Zoe Speaks, The Celtic Tenors, Alabama Troubadours and Phil Vassar.

In addition to hosting well-known performers, the library has made its mark in Hoover’s history.

The library’s River Oaks location opened in 1983. Two years later, the library relocated to the Hoover Municipal Center.

In 1992, it moved to its current location off Municipal Drive.

By 2001, the library had doubled in size, Borden said. Eight years later, the Plaza, theatre and café portions of the library opened.

With so many moving parts, no day is “typical” for Borden.

In addition to working on the strategic plan and budget, Borden has stayed busy with employee meetings, public relations and the Southern Voices Festival, to name a few.

“I consider one of the most important things I’m doing now is listening to staff,” she said. “With new city leadership, we know where we’re going and (are going to) prioritize what’s most important.”