The New Opelika Public Library is Open! Meet the Library Director, Rosanna McGinnis

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Some of my fondest childhood memories are when my mom would take me to our local library to explore and check out books. It was always so quiet, and the tall shelves were packed with books on what felt like anything I could ever want to know. I remember getting my first library card and boy, did I feel like big stuff that day! I’d pick out a few books from the children’s section and treat them like borrowed treasure while they were in my care. Libraries have always felt full of promise and opportunity to me, and I hope my kids will feel the same sense of wonder that I felt as a child. That’s why I’m so excited that Opelika’s new library is officially open!

The Opelika Public Library is led by my friend Rosanna McGinnis and her talented team. Rosanna is an absolute gem of a human, and I’ve had the honor of calling her my friend the last several years. I asked her to let me share all the exciting things happening at the new library with the readers of AO Moms!

main spacePlease introduce yourself and tell us how you came to be the library director for the city of Opelika.
 
I am Rosanna McGinnis and I have been the Library Director for 5 years, since moving to Opelika in 2016 for this job. After my husband retired from the Navy, we knew we wanted to be close to our extended family in Birmingham, but not too close. Close enough for regular visits that didn’t require a full vacation, but far enough that we get alerted to visits with a phone call. As I had been following his career around, we centered our search via my career. I began in Birmingham and then just looked at a map. Any city that was the right size font (font size usually corresponds to population size), I Googled the City Name + “Library Job” and then just virtually explored. I had NEVER heard of Opelika before and I was delightfully surprised by the amenities offered while maintaining the small town feel. After interviewing and visiting the city during the weekend of the Victorian Front Porch Walking Tour, I was absolutely charmed and accepted the job of becoming Library Director. My family moved here and we absolutely love it!
 
How long has the new library been in the works? I know you and your team have put in a ton of time and effort. 
 
In my initial self-directed goals, I had a new library (or renovation) in my plans by 2026 – so on a ten year plan. Increasing our offerings and programs as well as by updating policies and procedures dramatically improved the use of the library and we were able to make the case for a new facility in half the planned time. The very first email regarding the new library was sent in March of 2019. Planning took about a year. We visited other libraries, read about recommended best practices, talked with our frequent users to see what they loved about the library, and with non-users to see what could convince them to become regular library users. It was an intense process that we think resulted in an excellent building. We were very fortunate to have Robins and Morton on board as project managers guiding us through the things we didn’t know about – like all of the actual construction building requirements.
 
What does the library offer for kids and teens? 
 
In addition to the lovely new space, we offer a wide variety of programs! Our program calendar can be accessed at www.opelikalibrary.com. You’ll find book clubs, story times, CPR classes, all sorts of things. We would also love to know what YOU want! Send your program requests and suggestions to [email protected].
 
kids section
What would you like the moms in the Auburn-Opelika area to know about the Opelika Public Library?
 
When you come to the library, we expect your children to be children. Don’t worry about them making noise or doing any normal kid things, but please DO be worried about things that could cause harm to themselves or others. (Climbing furniture, throwing things, etc.) We want everyone to have a good time!
 
What are you most excited to be able to offer in the new library that wasn’t feasible at the old library? I know having more parking for special events is a big plus!
 
Large scale events and outdoor events. We now have the parking, the seating, and the A/V capability to make it happen. Our new space is so useful (and pretty!), and we want to explore every bit of it! 
 
library mural
Tell me about the mural! Who designed it? 
 
The design was inspired by other post card murals around the country, but this one was designed and painted by Christopher Johnson, and artist and printmaker from Columbus, GA. He has extensive mural experience and more of his work can be viewed here: http://www.chrisjmfa.com
 
We really wanted to represent all of Opelika, and it was a bit of a struggle to find not just good representation but also what physically looked good in each letter. This is where Chris’ expertise was invaluable. We had several email conversations, a couple of site visits, and a FaceTime to make sure we were on the same page. I love the way it turned out. For those who may be new to the area, here’s a brief break down of each letter:
O & P: The first two letters contain the fountain at courthouse square and the courthouse representing that Opelika is the county seat of Lee County. The new county was carved out of parts of Macon, Chambers, Russell, and Tallapoosa counties and then Opelika was voted as the county seat in 1866.
E: Golf and tourism are a large part of our economic advantages. This letter represents the excellent course available at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National.  Both the Links course and the Lake course were in the top 10 of Golf Digest’s list of “America’s Top 50 Affordable Courses” and all three courses at Grand National are listed among the nation’s 40 Super Value courses by Golf Digest’s “Places to Play”.
L: A front porch decorated for Christmas represents the exciting Christmas destination we are becoming. With more than 15 events between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and exceptional decorations beautifying our city, there is always something to do. 
I: The Pepperell stack is highly identifiable and represents Opelika’s history as a mill town.
K: The pink flowers highlight the beauty of our city and specifically the Azalea and Dogwood Trail. Coordinated each Spring by Keep Opelika Beautiful, this event brings in visitors from across the state that appreciate the beautiful blossoms and lovely homes. The Trail begins and ends at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 8th Street and is approximately 5 miles.
A: In the final letter is the Darden House. The Dr. J. W. Darden House in Opelika was built in 1906, the residence of the only black physician in the city in the early twentieth century. He also ran his medical office out of the home during the late 1940s. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 2009.
 
At the bottom right of the mural is the famous Rocky Brook Rocket. For a full and detailed history, visit https://www.opelika-al.gov/383/History-of-Municipal-Park.
 
One of my current favorite things is seeing the mural at the new library take over as cover photos on social media. When you share your photos, be sure to tag us @OpelikaLibrary and use the hashtags #myOpelika and #loveyourlibrary.
 
kids section books
What is the best way for people to make sure they are aware of all the happenings at the new library?
 
The absolute best way is to go to the library website (www.opelikalibrary.com) and create an account at the top. This is different from your library account. Once you have created an account, you can opt to follow whatever city departments you are most interested in. Obviously, you should certainly opt to get notifications from the Library, but other departments are available as well. If you would like a more casual approach, follow us on both Facebook and Instagram @OpelikaLibrary
 
What is your personal favorite part of the new library? 
 
The beautiful ceiling. And the book sorter. And the curbs in the parking lot. And the outdoor space. I can’t pick a favorite!! 
 
kid section train
What are you reading right now? 
 
I am reading Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman. It tells the story of three generations of the Gogarty family in Ireland. If you liked perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette or Evvie Drake Starts Over, you’ll like this!
 
 
I’m biased, but Opelika is lucky to have Rosanna! My family can’t wait to enjoy all that the Opelika Public Library has to offer, and maybe we’ll see you in the kid’s section!
 
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Sarah Savage is originally from Crestview, Florida, but has called the Auburn/Opelika area home for the last 12 years. She graduated from Auburn in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She and her husband, Jonathan, have a four year old daughter and a one year old son. Sarah works part time from home as a Communications Editor for Auburn University, but spends most of her time attempting to keep her kids from climbing—and subsequently falling off—furniture and providing an endless supply of snacks. She enjoys working out, reading, baking, listening to podcasts, and post dinner stroller walks with her family.

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