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Progress made on Jemison Library’s new location

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Progress is being made on converting a locally significant building into the future location of the Jemison Library.

The building is said to have been the Jemison City Hall and fire department at one point. The exact age of the building has not been determined, but both estimates that assistant librarian Cheryl English had heard were more than 100 years.

A new cooling and heating unit has been installed, and wooden covers for the electrical box and for wires to the overhead lights have been created.

“I never dreamed that we would be moving, and when Cheryl and I walked in, we knew this would be the perfect place,” Librarian Tammie McGriff said.

The City of Jemison needed additional office space at City Hall to have the court clerk separate from other clerks, which is a recommended best practice.

Moving the library to a spot on the Main Street was also seen as a way to help revitalization efforts in the area.

“The mayor had already been thinking about this section over here,” McGriff said.

Bookshelves, both some new ones and those in the current library, are being moved in. English said the current bookshelves, which are lower than the new ones, will have new tops put on them.

Community members Greg Deavers and James Smith are building the shelves.

McGriff said there are new books that have been purchased specifically for Jemison waiting to be placed. Some of these are from grants awarded to the Chilton County library system last year.

Books for children and teens as well as updating the collection were goals when the titles were chosen.

“We are still hoping to pull in different age groups,” English said, commenting that she wants to have programs for senior citizens and teenagers.

Several other community members and businesses have signed on to help as well.

Garrison Farm and Home Center will be donating some outdoor benches. Barry’s Furniture will be donating some furniture.

Kendall Jackson and Teresa Davis will each donate a table for children at the library to use. “Everyone has been very nice and excited,” McGriff said.

City employees have been working on the renovation.

Wood for the beams to cover the wiring for the lights was donated by Clay Mims. McGriff said several people have already volunteered to help the library staff move everything once the renovations are complete.

Work continues on installing lighting and fixing the roof, so a move in date is not solid yet.

Several aspects are in the planning phases. English said they hope to have lower shelves for a children’s area toward the back of the library at one side near a platform where a wood burning stove used to be. McGriff said the platform would be a good spot to read to children during story time or for the Angel Tree during Christmas.

Keeping an open area for events is also a goal.

The circulation desk will likely be against the wall toward the middle of the long building. McGriff said the setup will be similar to that they have now.

The hope is to have some farm tables (rustic looking tables) in the back corner for crafts or other activities.

Plans are also being made to add a sink and small refrigerator for staff to use.

“We will be doing some landscaping out back,” English said. “We are working on drainage back there. All of those things have to be done before we can put in our new patio.”

Bricks from a chimney that was removed from the building will be used for the patio. Plans are being made to put up a privacy fence in the back and hedges on the sides of the property.

Even with all of the needed improvements, the city and the librarians are trying to preserve as much of the original aesthetics as possible.

“We have kept everything possible original,” McGriff said.

This includes an antique looking set of bells above the door, the wooden ceiling, exposed brick and the existing doors.

Anyone interested in making a donation or volunteering for the project can contact the Jemison Library at 205-576-6760.