Pelham Library looking toward the future

Published 11:12 am Thursday, January 13, 2022

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer 

PELHAM – While many businesses and organizations were forced to stop operation during the pandemic, the Pelham Public Library persevered.

The library continued to offer virtual programs that the Pelham community depends on because they saw it as part of their mission as an asset to the community.

Entering the new year, the library is starting to return to in-person programming, and the library’s director Mary Campbell said they are more than ready to welcome people back inside as long as the circumstances allow.

“Hopefully, as long as things stay the way they are we can continue with in-house programming,” Campbell said. “That’s always subject to change in the COVID era.”

Recently, the library went back to in-person preschool story time, and beginning in February they’ll be conducting their teen Dungeons and Dragons sessions in person, as well. Once month they also have their Getting to Know Medicare sessions where people who have questions about Medicare can learn and ask questions in a safe and supportive place. The next Medicare event is Tuesday, Jan. 18.

“Our other big thing this month is our blood drive with the Red Cross,” Campbell said. “Every two months we do a blood drive for the Red Cross, and this will be the first one for this year. They’re experiencing an extreme shortage right now so we’re trying to fill that up. People can sign up for a time slot for that through the Red Cross.”

Other events this month includes a “New Year, New Life” program on Saturday, Jan. 29 where interior designer and floral arranger Susie Reynolds Smith will show attendees how to jazz up their home after taking down their holiday decorations.

The library received some very generous help this past year, as well. The Pelham-Alabaster Rotary Club donated $25,000 back in November, and Alabama Representatives Kenneth Paschal and Arnold Mooney also made considerable donations. They also received funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Campbell said the generosity of these donations means so much to the library and its staff, and said all funds will be put to good use.

“We’re updating our public access computers and our print management system because everything has to get updated,” she said. “We’re also getting new laptops for our computer instruction classes, and we’ve also gotten through a federal grant program five Chromebooks that we’ll actually circulate and check out to the public. We’re using some of the funds to update software and just to make sure everything is up to the highest standards we can so everything works well.”

The pandemic put a spotlight on how important the internet is and also how big the divide is between people who have access and who don’t. Campbell said the library has always served as an important asset for those who need assistance.

“You can’t do anything without the internet anymore,” she said. “I mean to apply for a job, to apply for government help, all that stuff you need access to the internet. The internet divide is getting deeper, the folks who need it, really need it so they can come use our internet.”

With 2022 comes the return of a very much missed community event, according to Campbell.

“We are bringing back Taste of Pelham on March 15,” she said. “Tickets will go on sale in February and they can get those here at the library or if they know a Library Guild member they can buy tickets directly from a Library Guild member.”

They had everything planned for Taste of Pelham which was set for April 2020, and then the pandemic hit. Campbell said they’re very excited to bring it back and they’re looking forward to highlighting the new restaurants that have opened in the past two years.

With the return of Taste of Pelham, Campbell said it’s starting to officially feel a more familiar type of normal. Through whatever happens, Campbell said they’re happy to see everyone returning in person, and they’re even more excited to show everyone what the library has to offer.

“Obviously people are still wearing masks and using hand sanitizer and all that good stuff, but when you walk through the building, it has the same energy as it had before,” she said. “It’s feeling very much the way the library used to always feel, and that’s really hopeful to me that we’ve gotten back to that feeling of enjoyment.”