By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The wait is nearly over for a new library in Wylam.
On Monday, city and library officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a 6,000-square-foot building that will feature a covered, outdoor patio, a reading room, a meeting room, work rooms, landscaping and a new parking lot.
The $1.6 million project is slated to open next January.
“2020 is going to look really good for Wylam . . . and we stand right now in the gap between the old Wylam Library and a new horizon of what we will see in 2020,” said Floyd Council, Executive Director of the Birmingham Public Library.
The former library closed in late April and was demolished in May. The first Wylam Library opened in 1921 and later moved up and down Seventh Avenue and Huron Street. It opened at the current location, 4300 7th Avenue Wylam, in 1962.
“The residents of Wylam have been very patient and I’m here to say the wait is almost over,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “There’s some people that have been fighting in the trenches for quite some time… thank you all for the work you’ve done, for what you’re working on, being an advocate and being passionate because your patience and commitment have been tested and its stood the test of time and it’s finally here.”
Wylam Neighborhood Association President Leroy Lassiter said the new library project has been a long time in the making.
“We are very happy to see this become a new site and a new library and hopefully we will get more things done in Wylam,” Lassiter said. “This has been in the works for about four or five years but it has finally come about and that’s a good thing.”
Councilor John Hilliard, who represents Wylam, said the community has a special place in his heart.
“My family has been in the Pratt City, Ensley area for 123 years and I want to see some movement happen that will help us go into the next century and have something for such a great community,” Hilliard said. “This is a day we’re going to rejoice in and a new beginning for Wylam. …We are growing the future for Wylam.”
Libraries are needed in communities more than ever, said Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales.
“I do believe that reading is fundamental and [as] a young girl who came from very, very little, I realized you can dream in the library and the part that dream is what will make you a productive member of society,” said Scales. “If you say you believe that reading is fundamental then we have to put our money where our mouth is and if we’re not going to do that, then I think we’re just talking.”