Saturday, January 9, 2010

Homewood Public Library from 1941 to Now: Our History

When the Homewood Public Library was established on March 24, 1941, the city was fourteen years old and had a population of 7,397. That first library was located in a small room on the second floor of City Hall, and its opening day collection consisted of between 2,500 and 3,000 books. The library was run by Mrs. J. L. (Mary Katherine) Switzer, a former librarian at the Birmingham Public Library. The library was open Monday through Friday from 2:00-6:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am-6:00 pm. Books could be checked out for seven to fourteen days, but there was a limit of three books per patron. (Only two books could be checked out on a child's card.) Overdue fines were two cents per day. 

Today, the population of the City of Homewood has increased to over 25,000, and the Homewood Public Library has grown with it. Now situated in a 50,000 square foot building on busy Oxmoor Road, the library's collection encompasses over 94,000 books as well as DVDs, videos, CDs, audiobooks, and electronic games. The library's hours have expanded from a mere 29 hours per week (in 1941) to a whopping 67 hours. There is currently no limit to the number of books any patron may check out, and they may keep them for three weeks. The library is a member of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative and serves over 48,000 patrons per month, both from the Homewood community and surrounding areas. No longer just a library, Homewood Public Library is a cultural center, offering programs for adults, teens, and children, Wi-Fi Internet access, computer classes, meeting rooms, and more.

In 2009, Homewood Public Library earned a national Four Star Rating for Library Service in the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. This system scrutinizes statistics that describe library service outputs, such as visits, circulation, public Internet computer usage, and program attendance. Out of 7,268 public libraries across the nation only 258 received star ratings. Homewood Public Library is one of only five libraries in Alabama to receive such an honor and one of only twelve in the Southeast. This Four Star rating followed the Three Star rating that was received in an earlier Library Journal survey.

In 2004, Homewood Public Library was awarded a Blue Ribbon Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Library Service. This is the highest distinction given to public libraries for excellence in library service. In order to receive this recognition, a library must meet or exceed more than seventy specifications based on the population of the city or county that established the library. To date, only nine libraries in Alabama have received this award. The award was presented by the Public Library Division of the Alabama Library Association. Gov. Bob Riley also presented Homewood Public Library with a letter and certificate of recognition from the governor’s office.

In 2002, the library was voted as Jefferson County's "Favorite Library". 

In 2001, Homewood Public Library earned Three Gold Stars for meeting so many of the established state standards for libraries as outlined by the Alabama Library Association and the Alabama Library Service. In previous years, the library was ranked seventh in the state and was awarded the Certificate of Achievement at the Two Star level.

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