Keeping up with the Roswell Library

Claire Mulkey, Director of Communications

COVID-19 has forced the closure, both temporary and permanent, of many businesses, establishments, and schools. The Roswell Library, after undergoing renovations since August of 2018, had to be closed just a few short months after its grand reopening on Jan. 3, 2020. 

Though dreams of checking out a book in-person are destined to be frustrated, the services of the library can still be accessed! The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, of which the Roswell branch is a member, has implemented new curbside features, like pickup of items on hold and return of items checked out before the pandemic.

Nancy Puckett, president of the Friends of the Roswell Library, spoke to the Sting about the organization, library renovations, and future plans. The Friends of the Roswell Library, or Friends for short, was started in 1984 by Puckett. The Friends’ purpose is to “provide financial assistance to the library in the way of materials, equipment, and programming; to promote the library as a learning center for all citizens of the community; and to act as an advocate for improved library services,” according to their mission statement. They run the bookstore inside of the library, where all proceeds go back to the library and the staff is 100% volunteers. The Friends are important advocates and supporters for the library.

The Roswell Library is now in the Arthur William Smith building, but that was not always the case. The old Roswell Library was around the corner, in the building that holds special events, called the Roswell Historic Cottage.

Many Roswell residents will recognize the old library building as the current Historic Cottage. Photo Credit: Claire Mulkey

The roof leaked so bad that librarians and volunteers had to cover the books with tarps and umbrellas to protect them. A push for a new library building was started then. In 1985, a bond referendum was passed and in 1989, the current library was built. 

Around 2005, another bond referendum was passed, which supplied the funds for the renovations of three categories of Atlanta-Fulton libraries. The Roswell Library was among the first group of libraries built in the 1980’s scheduled for total renovation. The changes to the library were extensive, including major renovations like a new entrance to Norcross Street, updated restrooms, additions of meeting rooms, quiet rooms, and a tech zone, as well as smaller (but no less important!) renovations like updated lighting, bigger windows, and a new sign in the front.

 Puckett’s favorite additions are the automatic book sorting system, as well as the handi-cap accessible entrances and features.

There are currently no plans for reopening and it is likely that the library won’t open back up again before next year. While the library is closed, many librarians and staff are working the voting polls. However, community members can still place books on hold ahead of time and then pick them up using the library’s curbside service, open Mondays and Tuesdays 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Library Staff Member Kristy Dicen waves while she gives curbside service to people in their cars. Photo Credit: Claire Mulkey

 The Roswell community is missing their library, but the curbside services provide comfort and some sense of normality. 

The library is so central to the Roswell community, even if it is not immediately obvious.

Puckett says that the library is the “socialization for the community. It provides free computer services” which is especially important to those who don’t have access at home. The library has multiple meeting rooms where a knitting club, three book clubs, an interfaith group of Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and even job interviews take place. The library is also a voting location. The Roswell Library is “a civic hub with free services for everyone.” There are programs to teach people English, give homework help, and listen to authors. One especially popular program is the “Roswell Reads” program, where one book is selected for community members to read that year, and the author visits the library to speak about their book. 

Puckett emphasizes how crucial the library is to Roswell: “The library is free for everybody. There is no discrimination in any way. It’s freedom, it’s using our tax dollars to provide services equally.”

Find the Roswell Library’s website here: http://afpls.org/how-do-i-m/176-roswell-branch

Also don’t forget to visit our Friends of the Roswell Library’s through this Website: https://www.forl.net/