Bringing back the books

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Selma library donates to library submerged by Katrina

BY JULIAN HELMS

The Selma Times-Journal

Mose Hudson Tapia Public Library in Bayou La Batre, Ala., was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The log building was constructed in 1933 and sustained damage that prevents it from being used again as a public library.

All books, computers and furniture were destroyed with the storm surge that entered the town at 15 to 22 feet. The collection held about 14,000 books.

The library took on at least 6 feet of water followed by black mold when the waters receded.

In Selma, JoAnn Bowline got a call. She made a call. Now, the Bayou La Batre public library in Mobile County is getting books.

Bowline retired from SABRA and now works with Vaughan Community Center’s HealthLink.

Her friend, Howard Hagy, lives in Mobile, north of the Port City. He made that first call.

“He told me about their library,” Bowline said.

“It was originally in a log cabin – after Katrina, FEMA’s given them $25,000.

That goes pretty quickly when you have to replace everything in a library.”

Bowline is a fan of Selma’s public library and a friend of its head librarian, Becky Nichols.

Nichols is who she called.

“We get a lot of nice fiction and non-fiction books that are bought brand-new from Amazon and donated to us,” Nichols said.

“I donate my books to the library and to SABRA,” Bowline commented.

“The majority of what we’re sending to their library is duplicate copies we’ve been given,” said Crystal Drye, who works at the Selma library.

“When I made the call to Becky,” Bowline said, “I had no idea it would be this many and this good.

Howard’s going to have to make two trips to get all of this down to Bayou La Batre.”

Sharonda Sanders, Selma library’s Coordinator of Information Services, said, “I picked books we had many subjects on from the non-fiction collection.

We wanted to share with this library and get them back on their feet.”

Bayou La Batre is known as the seafood capitol of Alabama and lies bordered by the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. It categorizes itself as a small French-oriented village in Southwest Alabama.

While fewer than 3,000 people live in Bayou La Batre, it has been ranked as one of the nation’s most economically valuable commercial fishing ports.