Library learning center named after Paul Courtney Vaughan

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

A change has been made to the brick wall in front of the Selma-Dallas County Public Library after a recent donation was made to help sustain the library’s services.

On one side, the wall reads “Selma and Dallas County Public Library.” The other side once read “Gerald M. Scrushy Library Learning Center,” but it has been changed to “Paul Courtney Vaughan Library Learning Center.”

Library director Becky Nichols said the change was made about a month ago after the estate of Paul Courtney Vaughan made a large donation.

“The gift was a gift to sustain the library for many years to come,” Nichols said.

According to Nichols, Vaughan’s great-grandfather helped found Vaughan Memorial Hospital, which is now known as Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

“Mr. Vaughan died, I think, a couple of years ago and had apparently been watching this library very carefully. He’s from Dallas County, and he recognized the importance of public education and the service the library was rendering and knew that they were significant and far-reaching,” Nichols said.

“His gift was to the library, but it was to the people of Selma and Dallas County and gratitude for his upbringing here. I think that makes the gift to everybody, and that makes it wonderful. It’s a great joy.”

The learning center was built in 1995, and according to Selma historian Alston Fitt’s book, Selma: A Bicentennial History, Richard Scrushy, was the library’s biggest donor at the time. Scrushy gave a large contribution in honor of his father, Gerald M. Scrushy.

The building was built with $1.2 million appropriated by the Selma City Council and $200,000 raised by Kathryn Tucker Windham.

“In that process, many, many people invested in the library because like now, they believed in the future of our community and the service the library would offer,” Nichols said.

“Of course, their investment was very sound and good, and we are totally thankful to the Scrushys, the Godbold family, Henry Brick Company … I’m naming a lot of those families because they all have space that’s dedicated to that gift, and that’s kind of the basis on which we have grown through the years.”

Nichols said those donations helped the 10,000 square-foot center get off the ground, and now the library depends on donations to maintain its services.

Nichols said the library is funded by the city and county, but it still experiences a large short fall every year.

“It’s a huge challenge. In fact, our annual budget does not cover the cost here, and we are raising money all the time to make up shortfalls,” Nichols said. Nichols added the library has an annual shortfall of around $100,000.

“What we’re looking for now is sustained funding, funds that will offer some protection to the library as she continues to grow and develop and not have to cut hours. Libraries across the country are cutting days, hours and services because revenues are just tough.”

Nichols said the donation from the Paul Courtney Vaughan estate will help reduce the annual shortfall and allow the library to maintain its services.