Early on Tuesday afternoon, as cold rain peppered the sidewalks in front of the open doors at Decatur Public Library, Ann Carper sat near the entrance, an electric heater keeping her warm.
“For a while, with all the construction going on as it is now, a lot of people came in to check out books and use the copy machine,” said Carper, who works in circulation at the library on Cherry Street Northeast. “They thought it would be like it always has been. We continue to work in shifts out here in case someone still walks in and needs guidance.”
And that’s despite a sign out front that says the library is closed for repairs and directs patrons to the temporary location at Decatur Mall. The sign also notes that there are no computers at the mall library, located in the mall’s community room beside JC’s 5 Star Outlet.
Wanda Hendrix, a 39-year veteran of the library working at the temporary location Tuesday morning with two other staff members, said some people pass a similar sign there, step in from the mall corridor and ask to use a computer.
But most patrons are pleased with the temporary services and realize they will be in place a while longer.
The best guess is the Decatur Public Library won’t reopen until late this month or early February. The city is spending more than $423,000 to install a new heating and air conditioning system, remove asbestos and upgrade the fire alarm system.
Hendrix and her co-workers, Belinda Vest and NeKeisha Robertson, totaled the patrons who have paid temporary location visits through noon Tuesday and came up with 970.
One of them, Rebecca Williams, of Priceville, made her second visit to check
out a new book, “The Rope,” a mystery she had on reserve.
“The upgrade they’re doing is long overdue,” she said. “I think the city needs to support the library more than they do because it represents us to the world from an intellectual standpoint and makes educational materials available to us.”
Williams said she has library cards for Decatur, Priceville and Hartselle.
“I would pay a fee for a library card if I had to,” she said. “But I think the city needs to take more responsibility.”
K.J. Simmons, of Decatur, who does factory work in Hanceville, took his off day to visit the mall library and check out a couple of videos.
“It’s better that the city opened another spot rather than close it all down while the upgrade is being done,” he said. “It shows they care about the people.”
Patti Davies, of Decatur, made her first trip to the temporary location Tuesday to renew her library card, which had expired.
“I use it to check out books and to go online and get digital books,” she said. “It is good that they have opened this location.”
With limited space, the library had to be selective in its choices of books and DVDs it packaged for the mall.
Hendrix said before construction began at the main library, Tina Seeborg held back fiction books while Susan Collins and Jennifer McNesse gathered non-fiction books.
“We all pitched in and got things ready for the mall library while everything else got shrink-wrapped for protection,” Hendrix said.
Patrons at the mall are limited to five items, including two DVDs.
“As time to close the main library approached, we’d tell people to store up, that they could have 50 items on their card,” Hendrix said. “Many thought it was something new because of the closing. But that’s the limit that it always has been. We were just reminding them.”
Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to reach Decatur Library
The temporary Decatur Mall location of the Decatur Public Library is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. To 6 p.m. Reference can still answer some limited questions via telephone and email. Call 356-353-2993 or email email@example.com.