Library dedicates renovated children#039;s section

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

More than 100 people turned out Sunday afternoon as the Andalusia Public Library formally dedicated its renovated children's section and 1,000 new children's books thanks to a generous donation from the Thelma Dixon Foundation.

Patricia Vick Moody, granddaughter of Dixon said the family wanted to do something for the community and decided to donate to the library - an organization the family has a long history with.

"We decided we wanted to 'pump up' the children's section," Moody said. "The Dixon family has had a long association with the library, and my grandmother and mother took an active interest in reading and literacy."

Earl Johnson, Andalusia's mayor, made a striking correlation between the Dixon family, widely known for their forestry endeavors, and the library - one that some people might not have thought about.

"When you think about it, there is a correlation between trees and books," he said. "Books are a by-product of trees, and we all know the Dixon's association with trees."

Johnson also said the donation will be remembered for generations, not just for the monetary reason, but for another.

"Years from now, we will have young children who will come here and be inspired by the products of the donations that made today possible," he said. "Children will benefit from the learning resources in this library."

Seth Hammett, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives shared Johnson's sentiments and recognized the selfless contributions the Dixon family has made in the past, and continues to make in Covington County today.

"The contributions and legacy of the Dixon family continues today," Hammett said. "At one time, they employed a large portion of the county, today they continue to serve the county. I think it is important that all children have the opportunity to read, and this allows more children that opportunity."

Catherine Roland, Thelma Dixon's daughter, thanked the family for their efforts in the project - particularly Thelma's grandchildren.

"I just want to thank the family, the grandchildren especially, for wanting to do this wonderful project," she said. "It means a lot to all of us."

After all the speakers had concluded, Moody returned to the microphone to make a special announcement - one that the family, the library and others hope will make a difference in the lives of children.

"Along with Andalusia Regional Hospital, Charles Dixon and Company, the library, and the foundation, we are going to begin presenting newborn babies with a coupon for a free book - their first book," Moody said. "The only catch is to redeem the coupon, the parents must come by the library to get the book. We hope that will continue to generate interest in reading."

At the conclusion of the program, guests browsed around the new children's section. Everyone agreed the re-vamped section was a tremendous success.

Visitors were treated to snacks taken right out of the pages of some of their favorite children's books.

There was cake from the Little Engine that Could, Madeline's Parisian Punch, water from the Little House on the Prairie, and much, much more.

But the books were truly the highlight of the day.

Four-year-old Sim Bowden found a book on insects of particular interest.

"I'm looking at creepy crawlies. There's a really big one right here," he said pointing to a large beetle.

Karin Taylor, head librarian thought the afternoon was a tremendous success.

"I think it went wonderfully," Taylor said. "Everything was very smooth and people were genuinely happy to have this wonderful resource from the Dixon family.

"We're glad this many people came out to see the renovation," she continued. "The overwhelming response of our community proved what an important thing a library is to every member of the community."

Not typically open on a Sunday afternoon, the library did benefit by receiving a few new patrons.

"We had some new library cards issued," Taylor said. "We found out that a lot of people already had one, they just hadn't used it in a long time. I've also had several people tell me it was a shame that so many people didn't know this was available in Andalusia, so we're going to try and let more people know about the library."