Avid reader serves as Piedmont Library Director
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Jul 18, 2013 | 1796 views |  0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tessa Maddox has worked at the public library for seven years. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
Tessa Maddox has worked at the public library for seven years. Photo: Anita Kilgore/The Jacksonville News
The Piedmont Public Library has always been a part of its director‘s life. Tessa Maddox has worked at the library for seven years and been director for the past three.

“When I was a baby, my mother and grandmother (Shelby Anderson) would take me in,” said Tessa. “Then, later, I was a member of the summer reading program every year. Everyone at the library got to know me.”

Tessa said she comes from a family of avid readers.

“My whole family reads a lot,” she said. “My dad said that he would just sit and read novels to me when I was a baby. I guess I was destined to work in a library.”

Tessa recalls how she got her job there.

“I was in there working on a paper for college,” she said. “I heard them talking about Mrs. Joyce Coble (assistant director under then director Kim Mills) retiring and that they would need to replace her. I was an extremely shy teenage girl, but I thought that sounded like a great job, so I asked about it and got it.”

Tessa said that Piedmont’ is such a small library that the director has to wear a lot of hats.

“I do book work, catalogue new books and material and do reports for the city and state,” she said. “I also work the desk, which is what I really like. I got to do that before I was director.”

There are over 2000 active members of the library. The facility houses about 25,000 books, movies and audio books. Tessa said that for a library Piedmont’s size, that’s a good number.

The library is also part of an online consortium that allows patrons to check out ebooks.

“Ebooks are a good thing now,” said Tessa. “So much is electronic. That’s a way for us to still keep our numbers up and for people to still check out books if they prefer to use a Kindle or Nook or another reader.”

For Tessa, writing grants is the most stressful part of her job.

“We applied for a couple of grants not long ago” she said. “We recently learned we received one of them, an education grant for library directors in Alabama who don’t have masters’ degrees in library science. It will allow me to attend a training session and online classes through the University of Alabama. I’ll be going to orientation at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for a week in October and then the rest of the training will be online throughout the next year. It’s a year-long course.”

Tessa said she should be hearing from the other grant this month or next. It’s a technology grant that will allow the library to replace all of it patron computers.

Tessa said one of her biggest responsibilities is planning events and programs for the library. The largest is the summer reading program that runs through the first six weeks of summer.

“The children have to read a certain number of books to complete the program,” she said. “They receive prizes for reading the books. This helps encourage them to come to the library and to learn that reading is exciting and fun. We have vendors that come in and do the entertainment. We also have a story time throughout the week and, for that, we use volunteers. This year, for the first time, we were excited to partner with the Learning Farm. We got to go over there and the kids did hands-on activities.”

This summer 212 children were in the program, the largest number yet.

“We were thrilled,” said Tessa.

A book club meets once a month at the library. Its 13 members discuss recent books and enjoy refreshments.

Tessa said it would be impossible for the library to run as smoothly as it does without help from its other two employees, the director’s assistant Donna Garmon and library clerk Brenda Christian.

Brenda has been there eight years.

“She’s just wonderful,” said Tessa. “Everybody loves Brenda. They love to talk to her. She’s so sweet and personable with the patrons. Donna just came in, and she’s learned everything already. She’s been wonderful.”

Tessa, 27, graduated from Spring Garden High School and attended Gadsden State Community College. She is the daughter of Stan and Cathy Anderson of Piedmont. She has a sister, Raen Anderson, of Piedmont and a brother Nick Ellison, of Dallas, Ga.

Tessa and her husband Brandon celebrated their first wedding anniversary in May. Brandon works with the crew that takes care of the soccer and softball fields at Jacksonville State University.

They like books, movies, and riding their bikes on the Ladiga Trail. They also share a love of music. Brandon plays guitar and drums and Tessa sings. They’re active at their church. Goshen United Methodist.

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.
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Avid reader serves as Piedmont Library Director by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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