About 13 months into founding the Wedowee Library, proprietor Steve Sedberry is still short on the rent. His appetite for new material has gotten him into trouble with the postmaster. He's also discovered how tough it is to get public money, even for a cause that has community support.
Rent -- about $100 a month plus utilities-- has drained his personal resources nearly dry.
He's been trying to get new, up-to-date magazines and newspapers. He's so short of cash he's resorted to an old college trick: combing through folks' garbage.
"This is essentially a recycled library," Sedberry says.
People filed complaints with Wedowee Postmaster Ed Warren. They were afraid more personal items, such as credit cards, might be dug up. Warren warned Sedberry to stay out of other people's garbage, threatening to have him arrested for loitering if it continued. Neither is sure if taking stuff out of the garbage is illegal.
"I don't have a beef with (Sedberry)," Warren said. "I think he's doing a good thing."
Sedberry has complied. He's still seeking money for the library, though, and he's been attending Randolph County Commission meetings asking for support.
He's running into timing problems. At the commission's Aug. 25 meeting, he asked for money but was told he needed to come back with a plan -- in a year. Commissioners told him it was too late to get a proposal for the 1998 budget.
They voted to fund a bookmobile visit, though, which irked Sedberry.
"Don't you think (a walk-in library) is superior to the bookmobile?" he said. "I just think it'd be great if the county seat had a walk-in library."
He did get a promise for a meeting. "We need to sit down and talk with you in a work sessions," said Commissioner Lathonia Wright, then commission chairman.
Sedberry got a positive response when he took the idea to U.S. Rep Bob Riley, R-Ashland, at a town meeting Aug. 28.
There the librarian, who used to be a folk singer, made the presentation a little more dramatic.
"Free exchange of information is one of the most important things in a democracy," Sedberry said in a roomful of people.
The congressman asked Sedberry to meet with the county commission, come up with a plan and present it to him
Walker offered it to Sedberry for a library the first few months for free. Sedberry opened his "Volunteer library" in July. He tries to keep the library open whenever he can.
"(A library) is an area where we may can help you," Riley said.
Sedberry also talked informally with the Wedowee Town Council. Mayor Tim Coe said the town has tried several times to get money for a library over the past years.
"It's just very difficult to come up with the funding," Coe said.
He also said that Sedberry's building, just off the county courthouse, has handicapped accessibility problems and lacks a bathroom. The mayor was very encouraged by the congressman's words.
Still the road is long and the going slow. Sedberry freely admits he is not used to trying to get the wheels of government moving and is getting frustrated.
"I know I'm not the best person to run the library, but [so far] I'm the only person to do it."
Library users certainly appreciate his efforts.
"I love to read," says Dixie Hicks, a Wedowee resident. "I can't understand why the town doesn't support it more strongly."
He said he's going to contact the Cheaha Regional Library to see if they can be of help.
He loves books and loves people. "I'm trying to provide the library out of love for the people," he told the county commission.
"I'm always getting a reason why not, but I can't get a reason why."
[This newspaper article transcribed by Steve Sedberry on 15 Dec 2002; Praise God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, who sent his only son to save us from a multitude of sins through his crucifixion and resurrection; Thank you, God! If we ever do get a decent library in northern or central Randolph County, Alabama may it serve all the people, not just the few who are acceptable to those currently in power. Even worse than no library at all is one which is an essentially-exclusive clubhouse for the well-connected conformists.
The tragedy of our country is that illusions of democracy prevent actual democracy. Nowhere is this more visible than in certain libraries which are run by and for those who have contempt for the people a library can best serve.
To use one's education, resources and power against the poorest and most uneducated people is a crime against God and mankind.
39. Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45. Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.]
You may feel moved to contact Steve with moral support or offers of assistance:
15 December 2002
The books have been in a warehouse for several years and still need a home.
Steve Sedberry, 100 CR 525, Newell, AL 36270-4312 sedberry3 AT yahoo.com