In early 1976 a group of interested Midfield citizens, led by B.Y. Williams Sr., developed the first Midfield Library Board. Sitting on that board was Louise Bailey, Joe Thoular, Gloria Dutton and B.Y. Williams Sr. as chairman. A small house behind the City Hall at 101 Woodward Rd. (a day care stands there now) was acquired for a library and the search for a librarian began.
The word reached Mrs. Mary Sue Balls, a mother of two and a teacher at Grace Covenant Preschool. She applied for the position and was hired.
Williams recalled searching for donated books and Clyde Dutton, Gloria’s husband, built shelves for the tiny structure. Mrs. Balls found boxes of books, bare walls, four rooms and a bath. She set about classifying and cataloging books and, aided by her friend Frances Moore, began to fill the shelves with books. After connecting with the Jefferson County Library System, the doors to Midfield’s first library opened up for half a day, six days a week. Mrs Balls had one Senior Aid to assist her.
A year and a half later, Mrs. Balls husband took sick and she had to retire from her job. In January of 1987, Gloria Dutton relinquished her library board chair to become the new librarian.
Both Mrs. Balls and Mrs. Dutton describe the cozy, warm first home, which was frequented by Police Chief J. Morris, who liked to read westerns and Jean McQueen, longtime City Clerk. Many others from the police department and city hall, located just next door, regularly dropped in.
By 1984 the library had outgrown its first building and the board set in motion plans for expansion. B.Y. Williams Sr. was still the chairman, with Claude Vaughn, Ruby C. Wesley, Eleanore W. Lumpkin, and Ruth Laminack. A Federal grant was obtained, and with matching funds from the City of Midfield, the current Midfield Public Library at 400 Breland Dr. was built.
On August 1, 2000 Gloria Dutton retired from her position as Director of the Midfield Public Library. Shirley Garland, a work-a-holic from the Midfield Community Center who had created a number of successful programs for the children there, took the position as Director and brought her love of children with her.
In April of 2003, under Shirley’s direction, the Midfield Public Library became one of the 50 out of 217 public libraries in the State of Alabama to receive a ‘One Star’ rating from the Alabama Library Association.
Jeff Parsons grew up in the library and began as a volunteer in 1995 at the age of twelve. He was hired as a part-time library aid in 1998 at the age of fifteen. At the age of eighteen he was given the title of Events Coordinator. During this time he created a Teen Advisory Board, planned and implemented the annual Summer Reading Program, and designed programs for children, teens and adults. He also served as the library’s “Computer Geek”.
In September of 2006, Shirley announced her intention to retire from her position as the Midfield Library Director. Jeff had just graduated from Birmingham Southern, applied for the position, and upon Shirley’s retirement as Director in October of 2006, was promoted from Library Assistant to Director. Shirley stayed on for another month to train Jeff before officially retiring on November 1, 2006.
In June of 2007, B.Y. Williams Sr. resigned from the Midfield Library Board after serving for 31 years as it’s Chairman. He was replaced in the board by his son, B.Y. Williams Jr., with Sgt. Eddie Richard as Chairman.
In 2008, thru the efforts of Councilwoman Velma Johnson, the library received a $210,000 expansion grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program. With this, the library hopes to increase the size of the children’s area, as well as create or relocate space for a technology center, and meeting or staff work rooms. The library has also received an additional $100,000 grant to repair the existing building and to purchase new furniture and flooring.
On July 23rd 2010, Jeff Parsons resigned from his position as Midfield Library director and was replaced the next day with Priscilla Ward. Priscilla was working part-time at the Midfield Library after 16 1/2 years with the Bessemer Library.
Priscilla is the Director as of this date and we are awating the groundbreaking of the new expansion.