Read about it: United Fund helps libraries

Published 1:54 am Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pat Davis is one of hundreds of patrons who visit the Andalusia Public Library every week, taking advantage of what she calls “one of the last ‘free’ things in the world.”

“Everything is so expensive nowadays, but you can still go into the library and pick out a book and get free entertainment for a long time,” she said. “I’ve always been a library person, ever since I was a little girl.”

Of course, the library isn’t really “free” — it’s paid for by local tax dollars and other sources. But when those monies come up short, that’s where organizations like the Covington County United Fund (CCUF) help to fill in the gaps.

In previous years, Andalusia Public Library director Karin Taylor has said the allocations from the CCUF go to help make the library’s summer reading program a success.

She has also said the CCUF helps to provide prizes for the library’s various contests throughout the year, helps to pay for hand puppets for children’s shows and helps with the costs of periodical subscriptions.

Andalusia’s library isn’t the only one that receives money from the CCUF — the libraries in Opp and Florala do so, as well. But it’s the one where Davis spends most of her time, reading everything from Stephen King novels to the works of Karen White.

“My favorite thing to read is the CIA thriller or espionage novels,” Davis said. “Right now, I’m reading a lot of Karen White, who is a modern author that has several stories set in Charleston (S.C.). I’ve visited Charleston before, so it’s a lot of fun to read about places you’ve been.”

Davis said her family moved from small town to small town often when she was growing up, but as long as the town had a library she was happy.

“We have a beautiful library here in Andalusia,” she said. “I’ve been in towns even smaller than Andalusia, and they have some amazing libraries as well.”

Of course, Davis has also seen some whole-scale changes at libraries throughout the years. Gone are the days of dusty rows of cards in the card catalog, which have been long replaced by computerized databases that include listings not only at one library but also libraries in other cities. Computer banks are also a noticeable feature of any modern library, allowing patrons the ability to browse the Internet or work on a project.

Davis said she doesn’t use the computers at the library because she has a computer at home, and she doesn’t really miss the card catalog.

There is one feature she does miss, though.

“There used to be these cards in the back of the books, and when you checked it out, they’d stamp it with your personal number,” she said. “Then, later, if you were looking for a book, you could take it out and look in the back and if you saw your number on that card, then you knew you had read it already.

“Of course, now when you check it out the librarian can look on the computer and see if you’ve read it before. I just liked being able to look at that card.”

However, Davis added there are several books that she can’t help but read over and over again.

“I’ve probably read Stephen King’s The Stand more times than I can remember,” she laughed. “I don’t really like most of his stuff, but I really enjoy that book.”

Davis said she is also trying to instill a love of reading in future generations, and tries to take her grandchildren to the library as often as she can.

“I’m afraid that in today’s world, people aren’t reading as often and don’t realize how wonderful it can be to lose yourself in a good book,” she said. “I always go to bed with a book and read until I feel tired.”

Davis and her husband, Jurell Davis, live in Andalusia. They have two children, Amy Williams and Ronnie Davis, and a son who has passed away, Chris Davis. They also have four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.