The Huntsville Library System a welcoming place of knowledge, connection

ByShannon J. Cortes

Apr 7, 2022

Upon entering a branch of the Huntsville Madison County Public Library (HMCPL), patrons feel a sense of possibility.

“Every place you pass in the library offers the opportunity to explore something new, different, or unique that you might not even know existed,” said Cindy Hewitt, chief executive of the system. of libraries at 10 branches.

The South Huntsville Library Children’s Space on Bailey Cove Road is popular with children of all ages.

The days of silent librarians and quiet buildings where you were seen but not heard are long gone in Huntsville. Today, the library is a welcoming place to connect and share ideas, knowledge and interests with others.

Hewitt, who helped open two HMCPL branches in North and South Huntsville during the COVID-19 pandemic, said libraries remain a vibrant and vibrant part of our community’s social fabric.

“With inflation rising and the cost of gas rising, there are libraries all over the city,” she said. “You can go and experience wonderful things without having to pay extra to try something new.”

Love Your Library Campaign

April 4-8 is National Library Week, a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association and United States Libraries. What better time than now to recognize the incredible work our library system does for Huntsville?

To celebrate, the Huntsville-Madison County Library Foundation is hosting its third annual Love Your Library campaign during the month of April. The council is raising money to stock the shelves of the new and improved New Hope Public Library, which is slated to open later this fall.

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited a library, or you’re skeptical of their offerings, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect on your next visit.

Books, of course

HMCPL has what you would find in a traditional library – books, books and more books. Old books. New books. Books of all types and genres that you need to put on your reading list ASAP. But if digital is more your thing, keep scrolling.

Services like Hoopla, Overdrive, Freading, and Kanopy offer a flexible alternative for those who like to consume media on a cellphone, tablet, or other device.

The system also offers a variety of book clubs at all of its branches and in non-library locations, such as Madison County coffee shops and breweries. You can even join HMCPL’s Goodreads group to find out what the staff is reading, hear what’s new in the library, and discuss your literary picks and pans.

When words don’t work, music speaks

Reading occupies a central place at the HMCPL, but music also occupies a special place that goes far beyond the shelves. Last year, the library system expanded its offerings with Blast, a free music streaming service exclusively for local artists.

Designed to boost the careers of up-and-coming singer-songwriters, Blast aligns with goals identified during a City Music Audit conducted by Sound Diplomacy. It also fills a gap identified by a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).

If live performance is more your style, check out HMCPL’s free concert series on the last Tuesday of each month at the downtown Huntsville branch. The most recent concert in March, which featured Huntsville in the Mood Swing Band, drew over 250 attendees.

“People were dancing and swaying – it was a wonderful time,” Hewitt said.

Click here for details of the next live concert on April 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Technology = future

HMCPL has revamped its downtown branch in recent years to include utilities on the first two floors and event space on the third floor. The third level also includes a new Technology Training Center (TTC) which hosts several computer training courses and workshops.

Whether you’re looking for the basics like resume writing or more advanced courses like Google certification, the HMCPL is sure to have something for you.

In addition to the TTC, the library system has a Workforce Development Lab at its North Huntsville branch on Sparkman Drive. Created for those who need digital assistance to secure a job or professional development, the training is provided free of charge to patrons by local agencies.

Let your creativity run wild

The HMCPL puts on-demand 3D printing and other advanced technologies like a vinyl cutter, CriCut Maker and CNC cutting machine at your fingertips.

Currently available in HMCPL’s North, South, and Madison locations, Makerspace Studios is free and open to use for any library card holder. Hewitt plans to add another Makerspace Studio to the downtown branch by the end of the year.

Consult the monthly program calendar.

The next generation

Libraries are a magical place, especially for children. The HMCPL makes literacy fun with regular storytelling events, interactive youth programs, arts and crafts, puppet shows and more.

Looking for something different for kids? Consider checking out an adventure backpack complete with nature and trail guides, binoculars and more from the Gurley branch. Fishing equipment is also available at the checkout from the Triana site!

Stay in the know

Mark the events calendar on your desktop or mobile device to stay updated on all the exciting things happening at HMCPL. You can also follow the library system on Facebook, TwitterInstagram or YouTube for more quality content.

Going forward, Hewitt hopes citizens will continue to see the library as a safe place to gather, reconnect, and explore our world.

“We want to connect people to the information and resources they need,” she said. “That’s our main role.”