Funds needed for library’s next chapter

By David Talley | Published Saturday, October 1, 2016
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CROWDED – Alvord Librarian Pamela Alhusaini shows off the library’s book collection. Alhusaini said the library has struggled to host events since it moved to a temporary location in 2012. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

When the Alvord Public Library lost its roof to a violent storm in May 2012, librarian Pamela Alhusaini started moving books from its Wickham Street address to a rented building on Franklin Street.

Among the hundreds of works moved before the old building was torn down, Alhusaini picked out a collection of books designated “classics.” The new building, much smaller than its predecessor, didn’t have space for all the old books so she carefully boxed them up and placed them in storage at her mother’s house, hoping, one day, they’d find their way back to the shelf and into the hands of eager readers.

Alvord city government officials have worked with members of the library board to plan a permanent home for the library. While many in town see the library as a need, City Services Coordinator Clint Mercer said the city has struggled to come up with funds for a new building.

“This has been one of those things that the need was identified a long time ago,” Mercer said. “Everybody just assumed there’s no way to do this. We decided we’re not going to accept that anymore, and we’re going to start taking the steps to figure out what it’s going to take.”

The old building once housed the library and a civic center, Alhusaini said. The two provided a meeting place and resource for members of the community.

“By the time I came to town, it was getting pretty run down, but we still had lots of use,” she said. “We have a ladies quilting group affiliated with the library. They always quilted in the civic center. When we lost that building the Methodist Church was very kind and opened their fellowship hall, so the ladies quilt there once a week. But they’re so anxious for us to get a facility so they can come back home.”

While the library’s square footage diminished with the move, she said its foot traffic hasn’t. Locals still use the facility for its five computers with internet access and book resources. Alhusaini’s summer reading program has proved popular, though she said it’s sometimes a toss-up between holding events outside or borrowing space at Alvord City Hall.

“We have very limited activities we can provide because we have to use city hall when we do summer reading or any program we offer,” she said. “We usually manage to squiggle and wiggle into whatever space we can and hope for good weather when that’s an option.”

Mercer agreed.

“She has an awesome summer reading program that’s only constrained by square footage,” he said. “She does a lot with what’s available because there’s always been a steady demand for facilities. It’s not just kids – internet access for folks that don’t have it. People that are seeking employment and those types of things. They can come set up an email address to be contactable.”

Mercer said the city is in the process of selecting an architect for the new building. While the board and the city’s EDC have fundraised, he said other local donors will have to take up the cause in order to finish the project.

“That’s what’s always been the struggle,” he said. “That’s why we’re where we are. The library board has worked hard at fundraising, but I think we’re just in a time of everybody’s fundraising for something. Money gets split up so many different ways. They’ve set aside some money, but it’s nowhere near the dollar amount we’re talking about.”

When the project does end, Mercer said he hopes the new building, planned to be steel with a masonry front, will inspire others to make improvements downtown.

“One of our ideas is that when we get this new civic center built, it will create a revenue that’ll support and staff the library better and enable them to have more activities and programs and other events and accommodations,” he said.

For Alhusaini, a new building would mean all of those things, including a chance to unpack a set of books that have waited more than four years to go back home.

“I hope they’ll still be there and not full of bugs when we get a new facility,” she said. “But I just couldn’t get rid of them.”

To donate to the library’s fund, visit Legend Bank in Alvord. For more information, visit the library’s Facebook page or website at

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