Heroes work here

Furloughed workers from the Birmingham Public Library’s Avondale branch step up and pre-record virtual programs

by Roy Williams, director of public relations, Birmingham Public Library

Editor’s Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, and city governments are no different. The city of Birmingham, in its newly proposed budget, reduced funding for the Birmingham Public Library by a substantial amount (along with many other departments in the city). As a result, 158 library employees have been placed on furlough.
Photo courtesy of Birmingham Public Library.

Firefighters, police officers and medical professionals are heroes, but they are not the only ones out there. Heroes are also every day individuals, including employees of Avondale Regional Library giving back to the community they serve passionately despite their uncertain futures. 
Due to the city’s financial challenges, most of the Avondale Library’s staff are being furloughed beginning at 5pm today, Friday, September 25. As a show of love to their patrons, employees wanted to make sure programs remain in place in their absence through the end of the year. 

Although hurting emotionally, the focus has been on the people they have continued to serve faithfully via the Avondale Facebook page the past six months since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Birmingham Public Library to switch from in-person services and programming at its 19 locations to virtual. 

Today is a prime example: Avondale workers are dressed in red to film a Christmas video to be released on the Avondale Library Facebook page in late December. 

Graphic courtesy of Birmingham Public Library.

“Upon hearing they would soon be furloughed due to cuts in the city budget, the staff responded with the heart of a servant,” said Youth Services Librarian Carla Perkins. “They chose to stay focused and true to their mission – the children.” 

Avondale Library employees –Ms. Cas, Mrs. Corinne and Mrs. Eve– spent much of the past month creating and filming over 20 programs for online engagement with the community. The programs will post weekly on the Avondale Library Facebook page September 28 – December 17, 2020. Mrs. Eve, a popular storyteller for 20 years at Avondale Library, is retiring today. 
From weekly online storytelling and adult gentle yoga to innovative programming such as an Avondale Neighborhood Interview series and a StoryWalk outside, Avondale Regional Library took its services to the next level since the pandemic changed the way libraries operate.

Of the 18,408 curbside pickup services and 328 Facebook posts by BPL’s 19 locations from mid-March through August, about half were done by Avondale Library employees. 

“In a time of change and uncertainty, there is solace in seeing a familiar face and hearing a caring voice,” Perkins said. “For the staff in the Avondale Youth Department, our patrons have always been and continue to be the heart of everything we do.”

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