With five major expansions, numerous awards and nearly 500-thousand visitors a year, the Hoover Public Library (HPL) is poised to celebrate its 40th birthday with a 1980’s themed birthday bash this Sunday, October 8th from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
“I’m very excited about celebrating forty years,” says HPL Director Amanda Borden. “It does seem possible to me. What seems impossible is how much we’ve accomplished in forty years. You know, forty years is not that long of a time.”
The Hoover Public Library officially opened its doors on October 8th, 1983 in a 4,000-foot square space located in River Oaks Village. Roughly two years later, due to rapid growth, HPL moved to a larger space at Hoover City Hall. In 1992, the Library moved into its current space at 200 Municipal Drive, where it has since doubled in size and added a plaza area.
“Within forty years, I think it’s quite phenomenal that we have built something so intrinsic to the community in such a short amount of time,” Borden reflects.
Besides growing in space, HPL has grown tremendously in services. Roughly 500-thousand people visit every year, the current circulation boasts 1.3 million items, the library has received numerous local, regional and national awards and its Library Theatre has served as the backdrop to numerous Grammy award winning acts. Borden says she and her staff try daily to live up to the HPL tagline of “Imagine MORE”.
“We consider ourselves to be more than a library,” Borden explains. “We are a performing arts center. We’re a place where the community can come in and hang out and meet other people in the community. We’re a place where you can come and see visual art on the walls. We have seven art galleries. We are a place where you can come to a big, large scale community event like our Halloween party for kids. We are a place where you can get resume help, get technology help. You could check out more than just books at the library. You can check out puppets and puzzles and board games. And we have a library of things now where you can check out items like an air fryer, a GoPro camera. We’re just so much more than what you could ever imagine.”
Borden credits HPL’s original and longtime former director, Linda Andrews for setting the library on a road to success.
“She was very visionary because she sort of saw libraries as more than just books before technology,” Borden recalls. “She had the vision to have live music and art and to be a place for all those things that she saw that we didn’t have in Hoover at that time. So we’ve just kind of continued to build on that very early vision.”
Borden says by doing so, it’s helped HPL continue to thrive during a time where there has been so much change in technology.
“I’ll say that technology helps us serve more people, because today you don’t even have to come into the library to check out a book. So the convenience factor has tripled for those that are seeking it as a reading destination,” Borden says.
But, she adds, there’s also a social, person-to-person benefit HPL provides the community as well.
“As we move into this phase where we become even more dependent on technology, like artificial intelligence and all that sort of stuff, I think we’re going to really continue to need more places of, you know, one-on-one connection. I think that humans need places where other humans are and I think the library can play a part in being that place,” Borden says.
Normally, when there’s a birthday, the honoree receives presents. But in celebration of its 40 birthday, HPL wanted to give a present back to the community.
“So, as of October 1st, we waived all fines that were accumulated over the last forty years on Hoover items. (Note: The waiver does not apply to lost or damaged materials, or future fines.) That was our gift to the community to say thanks for all the years. And if you weren’t using the library for any reason, or you felt like you had fines and that kept you away, we want you back. We want you to come and see what the library is, is doing,” Borden explains.
While she can’t say what her vision is for HPL for the next forty years, Borden does have high hopes for the next four or five years.
One goal is to see a library branch on the eastern side of Hoover.
“For a library of our size, we could actually use two branches,” Borden says.
She also says there is a desire to become a greater community partner, and points to the creation of the HPL’s Community Pantry as an example. She’d also like to see the library move beyond its four walls.
“One of the hopes is that we will be getting a Bookmobile. We just received a grant that will help and we’re getting matching funds from the City and federal government. We are actively trying to meet people where they are, whether it’s a park or an apartment complex or a neighborhood and I think you will see more of that,” Borden emphasizes. “No matter what happens in the future, which we can’t predict, we are a creative bunch, and we’re going to find our best way to serve the community. It’s the heart of who we are.”
When it came to honoring the library for reaching its 40th milestone, Borden says her staff felt like an 80s themed party would be fun. The bash will include food, drinks, 80s music, arcade games, crafts – like friendship bracelets, and even dance lessons to songs like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This party is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to wear 80s themed attire if they’d like.