No Fanfare Will Precede Friedman Library Opening, 1958

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No Fanfare Will Precede Friedman Library Opening, 1958


Tuscaloosa Public Library
Public libraries


Articles and photos describing the move of the Tuscaloosa Public Library to the Jemison-Van de Graaf Home, 1305 Greensboro Avenue.


Tuscaloosa News Archive


Tuscaloosa News


June 15, 1958


Tuscaloosa Public Library






Tuscaloosa (AL)


"Friedman Library to Open Monday"

The Friedman Library, located at 1305 Greensboro Ave., officially will be opened for business Monday, ushering in a new era in library service for Tuscaloosa County.

No fanfare will mark the opening as the library staff quietly assumes its duties early Monday morning. A formal dedication ceremony may be held later, however.

County readers- 11,000 registered readers and between 12,000 and 15,000 more who use Bookmobile services- have been without library service since May 26, the date the Tuscaloosa County Library closed in order to move to its new location in the old Van de Graaf home. The moving operation is almost complete now.

The Friedman Library will observe the same hours as did the Tuscaloosa County Library, its predecessor. Doors will open at 8:45 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Borrower's identification cards which were in good standing at the former quarters are still good according to Miss Barbara Davis, county librarian, who pointed out that the staff "will be happy to register any newcomers."

A year's residence in Tuscaloosa County is required to get permanent cards. But arrangements for temporary cards are made for newcomers to the area or for transients.

Miss Davis also reminded readers that the time has been extended on books which ordinarily would have become due while the library has been closed for moving. Date due cards were marked accordingly, she said, with the books becoming due when the library reopens.

In announcing the opening date for the Friedman Library, the county librarian also reported several changes in library policies.

Under the new policies, books and magazines will be loaned for a period of two weeks and phonograph records for one week. No reader will be permitted to borrow more than three magazines at one time.

Miss Davis explained that a limit was placed on the number of magazines which can be borrowed by any one person because the demand for magazines is larger than supply. "We hope by this means to reach more of those persons interested in this type of material", she said.

Another policy change concerns the renewal system. Under the new ruling, no renewals will be made over the telephone in the future, and books may be renewed once at the circulation desk for an extension of two weeks or a total of one month for a book which a reader has been unable to finish in the first two weeks.

"This change is necessary to fall in line with the procedure in other public libraries of comparable size in Alabama." she said. "We sincerely hope this will improve the over all service and ask the public's cooperation."

"Library Provides a Conference Room"

With the opening of the Friedman Library, a new conference room will be made available to Tuscaloosa County's civic and study groups.

The conference room- one new library service for county readers- will accommodate an estimated 40 people, according to Miss Barbara Davis, county librarian. It can be reserved for meetings which take place during the hours that the library is open to the public.

All reservations will be made with Miss Davis.

Located on the second floor of the Friedman Library, the room is Women's Clubs of Tuscaloosa County.

Another new service which will be offered in the expanded library facilities will be a phonograph listening room. The Tuscaloosa Pilot Club is providing the necessary equipment for record playing and the decorations for the room, and the library will provide a collection of 227 phonograph records.

While the Friedman Library will offer new services, it also will provide for the improvement and enlargement of services which existed at the Tuscaloosa County Library.

Only the first floor of the building will be open to the public. The second floor has been reserved for offices, a working area, the conference room and a staff lounge.

The office of the county librarian is located on the second floor. Miss Mary Guy, processing; Mrs. Laura Forbes, library assistant, and Miss Jamie Sue White, Bookmobile librarian for the summer months, also will work there.

When a reader enters the front door, he sees the circulation desk, placed beneath a high arch in the entrance hall and supervised by Mrs. John Rakestraw. To his left is the children's room, where Mrs. Betty Joyce Smith, readers adviser for children, will be stationed. To his right is the Cherokee Room, decorated by Mrs. Mildred Warner.

Directly behind the children's room is the teenage room. Adjoining it on the northside is a room which has been set aside for story telling. B'nai B'rith is sponsoring the story telling room and will announce complete details later. Also located on the northside is the small office of Mrs. Nell Arsic of Tuscaloosa, field representative for the Public Library Service Division.

Lying beyond the Cherokee Room, filled with adult fiction, is the adult reading room with non-fiction. Miss Laura Owens is reader adviser for adults. Adjoining the adult reading room on the southside is the current periodical room, including westerns and mysteries.

The reference room, directed by Miss Nannie Sue Bealle, also the library's cataloger, and the stacks also are located on the first floor. The public will not be permitted in the stacks.

In addition to the people who will work in the main building, the library staff will include Mrs. Ruth Eaton Cummings, librarian at the Weaver Branch, and Mrs. Carolyn Dickson, who is in charge of the Northport station.

"Library Will Begin Operation in the Old Van de Graaf Home"

Did a tunnel actually run from the old Van de Graaf home to the Warrior River years ago, and did Confederate soldiers use the legendary underground exit to make escapes during the Civil War?

This is one of the many mysteries which surround the building in which the Friedman Library will begin operations Monday.

Asked about the tunnel, Miss Barbara Davis county librarian, said that no tunnel has ever existed beneath the home. She quoted as her source of information William (Bully) Van de Graaf who grew up there.

However, Miss Davis pointed out that she has talked to people who claim to have seen the entrance to the mysterious tunnel. They more than likely saw the entrance to a dry well in the basement she explained.
The Van de Graaf home was built in the 1850s by Robert Jemison, a prominent plantation owner, Jemison also served in the State Legislature and operated the first stagecoach line out of Tuscaloosa.

His home was built along the lines of an Italian villa, elaborate on the outside and spacious inside. The walls are a foot thick and were constructed from hand made brick, mobled by the slaves on the Jemison plantation. The ceilings are high, and the doors and windows are protected by shutters.

Many people will still refer to the building as the "Van de Graaf home." Years from now, however the identification probably will be lost and people will refer to the familiarity as the Friedman Library.
Named in honor of Hugo Friedman and his family, the building is the third home of the county library. The library was founded in 1921 in the basement of the courthouse and was moved to the building on Greensboro Ave. in 1926.

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