Why I’m Thankful for My Library: Patron Shelly Ann Edge

Count Shelly Ann Edge among patrons thankful for the Birmingham Public Library. 

 Edge has been taking her 6-year-old daughter, Tallulah, to Avondale Regional Library since she was a toddler, and continues to take advantage of the library’s curbside services and views the weekly virtual programs on the Avondale Library Facebook page.

 Since she is homeschooling her daughter this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Edge is relying on Avondale Library for the extensive weekly book list homeschooling requires. She checks out 15 books a week.

In a Q & A, Edge talked about what she loves most about BPL. 

BPL: It is the Thanksgiving season. Why are you thankful for the Birmingham Public Library?

Edge: Without the Avondale Library, homeschooling would be far more challenging, and my family would have far fewer resources available to us to aid in our education. I am very thankful for the caring librarians, who know my daughter by name and help pick out the perfect books. 

The craft bags that the library has offered (for both children and adults) are so much fun and we have enjoyed being able to have that creative outlet. It is such a fun surprise each week to see what craft might be offered! 

 BPL: How long have you been a patron of Avondale Library and BPL?

Edge: I got my first library card at the age of 5 at the Five Points West branch of the BPL. I was there on an almost weekly basis throughout my childhood for programs, and of course to check out as many books as I could. I have always loved to read and learn. 

When I was in high school my family moved to Trussville, and we became regular patrons of the Trussville Library. My mother later became their Young Adult Librarian; she recently retired after 19 years at Trussville Public Library. When I was preparing to go to college, I went to the library to research.

When I was seeking a job, I went to the library to read all I could find about the process. When I was renting my first apartment, I went to the library to research. When I was planning my wedding, the birth of my child, grieving the loss of a loved one, starting a nonprofit, the library has supported me through every major milestone in my life. 

My daughter and I were invited to attend one of Ms. Eve's story times at the Avondale Library, and we absolutely loved it. We have enjoyed the special care that the librarians take in helping to select and suggest books for us. I am homeschooling my daughter this year, and I am relying on the library for our extensive weekly book list. On average we read around 15 books a week. 

 BPL: What do you love most about BPL? 

 Edge: I cannot say enough about how much I love the library. I cannot imagine my life without the resources, and opportunities that have been afforded me through every book I have ever checked out. Every Birmingham Librarian I have met is genuinely kind and willing to help find whatever book, movie, or other resources that might be needed - and then make suggestions for even more resources that I didn't know to ask about.

Ms. Eve, who recently retired from Avondale, and Ms. Carla always go the extra mile to be sure that we have whatever books, and resources we might be looking for. I continue to be blown away at the wonderful videos Avondale shares of excellent programs and engaging stories. Continuing to offer such vital resources to the community during the midst of a pandemic is invaluable. The librarians' dedication to serving the community is quite inspiring and should be applauded.

 BPL: Why do you feel libraries are a vital part of Birmingham? 

Edge: I believe that a healthy library creates a healthy community. Libraries are champions of our youth. Libraries build community and educate. Libraries are a safe space to ask questions and learn. Library archives for our city preserve our history. The Birmingham Public library provides resources for individuals, for families, for business leaders, and for everyone. The resources we have access to thanks to the Birmingham Public Library are essential and must be supported by the leaders of our community. Libraries provide resources to everyone.

BPL: Why do you feel it is important for the public to support BPL? 

Edge: Our library must be well funded, it is essential to the health and well-being of our community. When we walk into Birmingham Public Library regardless of our race, ethnicity, class, religion, belief, gender, sexual orientation, age, health or other status we have access to the same resources.

We all have access to the same books (audiobooks, eBooks, and hardcopies), databases, magazines, journals, newspapers, maps, genealogy records, movies, music, archives, test prep, resume assistance, homework help and so much more. Some of our libraries offer the check-out of instruments like ukuleles (Avondale Library). Some (Central Library) offer the check-out of fine art prints.

There are not enough places available to us where you are treated equitably and warmly no matter your background or identity. I am thankful that the library provides that place.