Calling on the Library Ladies

Published 7:27 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

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While other libraries are scrambling to keep patrons walking through the door, the ladies at the Claiborne County Public Library seem to know the secret to doing so. On any given day, the three women can be found assisting the public in a plethora of activities from locating that next thriller book or movie to helping a patron learn more about using a computer.

It all boils down to making the library a second home of sorts, a feel-good spot where you walk in and are immediately greeted by name like an old and dear friend. Library Director Sandy Rosenbalm, Assistant Director Teresa Noe and Assistant Librarian Jami Bell just have that certain rapport – all while efficiently performing their duties.

The Library Ladies have some 80 years of combined expertise in what they do. Rosenbalm, Noe and Bell are not satisfied, however, to lean solely on their long histories within the library setting. The three are always delving into new and novel ways to bring even more to their patrons through special programs, either online or in the real time world.

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“We all feel good when we help somebody,” said Rosenbalm. “We have a lot of folks who have never used a computer. All job applications have to be done over a computer now and a lot of them (the applicants) don’t have an email address.”

Bell and Noe agreed.

“Even if we’re just scanning a copy or emailing stuff to print out –they’re so appreciative of what little you do to help them,” said Bell. “The thing is we become so attached to our patrons. They become friends and family and we’ve lost so many that have just touched us.”

Noe says there are quite a few who make the library a daily or near-daily destination.

“We develop bonds with our patrons. I think when you love your job, you see these people regularly, they do become like family.”

The bonds have become so tight that the ladies can match up an inter-library loaner book without checking the list to see which patron had ordered it.

Through COVID-19, the Library Ladies found ways to continue serving their valued patrons. During the long two-year ordeal, their sunny smiles and warm greetings could be found. Even those clear, protective shields set up along the front desks could not dampen the usual “hello” and “how you doing?”

Curbside pickup and drop-off sites were available to those by merely calling in to request a certain book or movie. You could feel the brilliant smiles right through the masks as one of the three brought your sanitized order right to your vehicle.

“Since COVID, our numbers have gone a little down. But, we’re building that back up,” said Noe.

All three ladies say their favorite pastime is reading, which more than likely led them to make a career out of it. Rosenbalm found the library through the Summer Youth Corp.

“The lady that was the librarian at that time was leaving the next spring. She told me to come in and apply for the job.”

That was 41 years ago, when the entire library would have fit into a small section of its current location that houses its public computer terminals.

Noe came onboard some 20 years ago as a part-timer but swiftly moved up into a fulltime position.

“I was always a Book Clubber and a patron before I became an employee. One of my friends found out there was a job opening and I had just had my son. I just wanted to work part-time so it worked out good. God set the path,” said Noe.

Bell found her dream job at the library via the WIA Youth Program.

“I actually wanted to be in a lawyer’s office. But, the hours didn’t coincide.”

When that didn’t pan out, Bell says she was thrilled to learn that the Library was an option.

“I came out here and spoke to Teresa because Sandy wasn’t here and got the job and it morphed from there.”

A lifetime reader, Bell admits to having read the very adult book “Flowers in the Attic” at the age of ten.

“Mom didn’t know what I was reading, but that’s okay,” said Bell.

The Claiborne Library is chockfull of resources and all it takes is a library card. One of the newest perks is the Meet Libby App giving free access via anyone’s device to the latest in newspapers, magazines and audiobooks.

The Library also offers TEL (Tennessee Electronic Library) that assists users with school homework, college test prep, career tools, language learning and genealogy.

The R.E.A.D.S. (Regional eBook &Audiobook Download System) is also free to access.

There’s the popular Summer Reading Program and the Spring and Fall Book Sales.

Nearly every day is a special day at the library, no matter the age. There’s Storytime, Lego Club, Home School Group, Bingo for Books and Lunch Book Social. Many more events are in the planning stages.

The library is now a ‘fine-free’ facility, meaning there are no fines for late returns. There are 11 public access computers on site and free Wi-Fi. Free use of ChromeBook and Wi-Fi Hotspots are available via checkout.

The Friends of the Claiborne County Library meet each month. The nonprofit organization was founded in part to support projects and programs beyond the scope of public funding. The Friends are always looking for new members.

For more information, log onto: or call: 423-626-5414.