Library to celebrate 100 years

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 10, 2003

How do you celebrate turning 100 years old?

You throw a party, that’s how. One that lasts for a whole year.

At least that’s how the Selma-Dallas County Public Library plans to celebrate its upcoming centennial.

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Indeed, the library has been bringing the people of Selma and Dallas County since its inception as a Carnegie Library shortly after the turn of the century &045; the 20th century, that is. And not just through the medium of books.

Ideally, a library is more than just a place to check out books. A good library nurtures the ongoing conversation of ideas that is vital to any progressive community.

Above all, a good library is inclusive. From its handicapped access ramps to its materials for the visually impaired to its well-stocked shelves, Selma’s library reaches out to the entire community.

Want to research a topic online? The library can put you on the Internet highway.

Can’t read? The library hosts classes onsite to teach you.

Never got around to getting that high school degree? The library can help.

Need help teaching your children the importance of reading? From books to puppet shows to Big Fish, Selma’s library boasts a children’s section that would be the envy of many larger libraries. The celebration gets under way early. Beginning Jan. 5, the library will issue special centennial library cards to all users.

This being the South, it would be impossible to celebrate the library’s 100th anniversary without acknowledging that for a good many of those years blacks were not allowed to use the library. True to her calling as a librarian, Nichols has tackled that issue head on. The library has commissioned Selma’s Kathryn Windham to write a book depicting the remarkable story of Earnest Dawson, a black man who donated $10,000 to the library even though he was unable to use its facilities as a child.

The book, which Nichols calls &uot;the crown jewel of the centennial,&uot; will be available in April, which coincides with National Library Week.

The party gets in full swing on June 22, which is the day the old Carnegie facility at Selma Avenue and Lauderdale Street officially opened in 1904. Photos from the time indicate the occasion was marked with a gala outdoor barbecue. Nichols plans to duplicate that event 2004-style. The library also plans to launch a fund-raising drive to coincide with the centennial.