Every day, libraries in communities across Georgia are transforming lives as they offer opportunities for people to build new job skills, pursue degrees, stay active, learn to read, meet friends, and much more.

Here are a few of their stories.

Rolando Alvarez
Alvarez is a county commissioner in Barrow County, Georgia, and a real estate investor.

Barrow County commissioner Rolando Alvarez

Alvarez

I have lived in Winder, Barrow County, for my whole life. I grew up in a family of limited means, but with lots of love. My Dad is a Cuban immigrant, and we grew up in a one-bedroom trailer. My sister and I shared a room, and my parents slept in the living room. We didn’t have access to many luxuries growing up, but my mother made sure we had access to the local library.

My middle school, Russell Middle, was next to the Winder Library. Going there started my love of reading, my love of knowledge. The first time checking out books I remember being concerned – was there a limit on how many books could I take?
I would walk there after school to work on group projects, check out books (as many as I could tote!), and use the computers. In fact, the first time I ever used a computer was at the library; I remember typing a paper and printing there.

Back then and continuing to now, the library afforded me access to technology not readily available or affordable to individual families like mine. From word processing and microfilms in the 90s, to high-speed internet and 3D printing today. My library is important to me because of the doors it opened in unfamiliar, yet valuable places.

As an adult, I used PINES to reserve so many books to learn about how to start a real estate business. Much of my success in starting a small business was learned through resources at the library, some 15 years ago.

Coming from a family with limited means, it is apparent I owe so much of my success to libraries. There’s no other way to say it. Libraries continue to provide access to critical resources and lifelong learning to many people across our state today. I am proud to say the story of my life has many co-authors, not the least of which has been the Winder Library.

Anthony Jones: “The last five years, the library has seemed like a second home as I used it to complete my master’s degree and start work on my doctoral degree. I have developed friendships and received help from total strangers.”

Desiree M: “I came to this library as a child and loved to read. Now that I am older, I took a Microsoft Word class here, and it has helped me for my senior year in high school. This library gives you many opportunities.”

woman smiling while holding a yoga mat

Keirha Whitley: “The library is my peace, and it resets my kids. I visit almost weekly, either for an activity or just to check out a new book. Yoga at the library was thought of by a genius. It’s cozy and relaxing, and what a great area to meditate.”

Cindy High: “I’m so thankful for the exercise class at De Soto Trail Library. We are a retired group of ladies very much concerned with staying active and healthy. We look forward to sweating together and sharing a common bond. This shows what an asset our library is to our community.”

Kandis Mingo: “Internet access at the library is a lifeline for many residents of Douglas. I used my library’s computers, printers, resources, and internet to obtain my master’s degree in criminal justice.”

Miracle Wiley: “GLASS (Georgia Libraries for Accessible Library Services) has helped me in my career. I can read along with my students and introduce them to different types of books.” Miracle used GLASS to access assigned reading as she pursued a degree in education. Now that she teaches elementary school, she uses audiobooks in her classroom with students.

library patron reading a magazine

Payne

Ruth Payne: “I have attended Medicare and driver’s education classes at the library. These classes are so helpful for senior citizens, and the library is close to my home.”