Straughn librarian retires after nearly 20 years

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2014

For nearly 20 years, Jimmy Ponds was a fixture in Straughn’s library.

When the doors open in the fall, Ponds won’t be there to teach the newest generation of Straughn Tigers about card catalogs or the newest books and children’s literature.

The Millport native said the education bug bit him while substituting for a friend.

“I decided to go back and try my luck,” he said.

Since then, he’s made a difference in the lives of children from Alabama Christian Academy, Sulligent Elementary, and Freed-Hardeman in Henderson, Tenn., before finding Covington County.

“In the spring or summer of 1985, the graduate school at the University of Alabama contacted me and said there was an opening in Covington County,” Ponds said. “I came down and interviewed with John Thomasson, who was the principal.”

Ponds began his career in Covington County at Fleeta Junior High School, but he also served students at Straughn and WS Harlan Elementary School before becoming the full-time librarian in Straughn.

Ponds said he has seen a lot of changes throughout the years.

“I survived the 16 mm era,” he quipped. “In my graduate school cataloging class, we had a strict teacher. She made us type the cards, print and measure the indent to the centimeter. Now it’s already done for you.”

Ponds said now everything in libraries is automated.

“I was somewhat intimidated by the catalogue system,” he said. “I was used to having a hard copy. It did make things easier.”

Ponds said when he received new material at the library, he would scan the books in order to be able to recommend them to students.

In his retirement, Ponds said he plans to move back to Millport, while continuing to garden vegetables, participate in sacred harp singing and raising caged birds.