Celebrate Library Lover’s Month!

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

It’s a pleasant winter day in Greenville. Several adults are working busily at computer stations. A group of high school students cluster around a copier, while a mom browses among the selections in the children’s section to choose a book for her youngster.

Others settle down in comfortable chairs to peruse the local papers, or check out what’s going on in business news via &uot;The Wall Street Journal&uot;. A gentleman stops by the front desk to pick up a book he’s put on reserve.

Welcome to the Greenville-Butler County Public Library (GBCPL), a place that is quietly, yet constantly, buzzing with activity.

Located since October 1992 in a spacious structure on Fort Dale Road, the library – as its name implies – serves all the residents of the county.

&uot;We love to focus on what is good for the community as a whole; we look at how we can meet this county’s needs,&uot; says Burke &uot;Sweetie&uot; McFerrin, head librarian.

On hand to help you

McFerrin and her staff – Shirley Boutwell, Burchie Crosby, Robin Hall, Pam Cook and Children’s Librarian, Jean Bauer

– are on hand to assist library patrons with everything from checking out books to using the computers and copying machines. &uot;We have a great staff here; we all work well together,&uot; says McFerrin.

McFerrin is also quick to sing the praises of the &uot;wonderful, dedicated and far-sighted&uot; members of the library board: Patricia Compton, Annie Lewis, Margaret Phillips, Melvyn Stone, Jeddo Bell, Vivian McGowin, Calvin Poole and Nedra Crosby, chairwoman.

&uot;The library board is a pleasure to work with, and people can’t always say that about boards. We, however, are blessed with a visionary group of people who make good things happen for the community,&uot; says McFerrin.

Plenty of good books

Providing plenty of good reading is, of course, a vision all libraries should pursue, and the GBCPL is no different.

&uot;We always have new shipments of books coming in, and we run reviews of the new arrivals in ‘The Greenville Advocate’ on a regular basis. Also, we post a list of books that will be coming in, to allow our patrons to sign up and put that new book on reserve…obviously, we can’t carry everything we’d like to, but we do try to buy the books we know our readers will want to read,&uot; McFerrin explains.

Library cards are free, carry no expiration date and are available to any Butler County resident.

Not only can patrons come into the library Monday through Saturday to select a good read, those who live at a distance, or who are homebound, can also enjoy books from the library.

&uot;We have about 250-300 books as part of our ‘Mail-A-Book’ Program. We have a catalog with listings of all the books available for adults and children. There are mysteries, westerns, romances, non-fiction – something for everyone. And it is entirely free to our patrons,&uot; explains Burchie Crosby, who is in charge of the program for the library.

A special place for kids

The library has a special section that caters to kids, with a large number of books for ages preschool through young adult. A separate children’s room, set up in an amphitheatre style, provides youngsters with &uot;a place of their own&uot; where they can come and enjoy children’s programs and special events, such as the monthly &uot;Super Saturdays&uot;, held the third Saturday of each month and led by Bauer.

During the summer, children can come to the library on weekdays to enjoy the Summer Reading Program. The program focuses around a different colorful theme each year (this year it’s the circus), and offers incentives to encourage children to read throughout the summer break. In addition to storytelling, these programs feature arts and crafts, music, games, puppet shows and refreshments for the children.

&uot;We always have a great time together and I would encourage parents to bring their children – it’s free, you learn new things, and it’s fun,&uot; says Bauer.

Room for learning

The library has two conference rooms available to the public – the smaller, more formal &uot;Alabama Room&uot; and a larger auditorium that can serve as a meeting room, or classroom for up to 50 people.

&uot;We also have a special LCD Data Projector, made possible through a Beaumont Grant, which can be hooked up to a laptop and used to make special presentations. It’s a really impressive piece of equipment we would love to see more people make use of,&uot; says McFerrin.

&uot;We do have many groups using our conference rooms and it’s good to know the community is taking advantage of them,&uot; adds Crosby.

More than books

Meeting patrons’ needs means offering more than books or meeting spaces. It also includes such things as providing tax forms for local citizens. &uot;We are the only spot in town that I know of carrying the forms – they will be in any day. And, we can also download forms from the Internet for our patrons,&uot; says McFerrin. Two copying machines are also available to patrons at a charge of ten cents per page.

A number of periodicals and newspapers are available for patrons’ reading and research, including local weekly and bi-weekly newspapers, dailies, including &uot;The Montgomery Advertiser&uot;, &uot;The Mobile Register&uot; and &uot;The Wall Street Journal&uot;, and the Sunday edition of &uot;The New York Times.&uot;

The GBCPL also offers a large selection of VHS tapes, including classic movies and children’s videos, along with books-on-tape, foreign language instruction cassettes and CDs, all available for check out, free of charge.

Computer savvy

There are 11 computer workstations offering public access to the Internet, ten of which require a membership card &uot;in good standing&uot; with the library, with the 11th computer available for use by out-of-county visitors.

&uot;We also have two computers which are set up for word processing only and basically those are for students. We do ask anyone under 16 using these computers to be accompanied by a parent,&uot; says McFerrin.

Donate to a good cause

For those who love books and love to shop for bargains, the library’s annual used book sale is a much-anticipated event each year. This year’s book sale is scheduled for Friday, April 1 (preview), and Saturday, April 2.

Hardcovers and paperbacks are offered along with CDs, videotapes, periodicals, sheet music and other items donated by the public.

&uot;We are taking, and will happily take, donations for our book sale right up to the day of the sale. The sale helps the library raise funds for items we need, but it also helps the public by giving them a chance to get good books at a bargain price. I look at these sales as an opportunity for people, who could never afford to do so otherwise, to create their own home libraries,&uot; explains McFerrin.

McFerrin and her staff encourage the public to come in and enjoy all the library offers during National Library Lover’s Month.

The Greenville-Butler County Public Library is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more information about any of the library’s programs, call 382-3216.