From tax preparation assistance to seminars and workshops on a variety of topics that appeal to the area, the Frayser branch library serves a vital role in the community.
The Frayser library branch might be one of the smallest in the Memphis Public Library system, but its 6,400-square-foot space is kept busy with a steady flow of visitors.
There are 19 branches of the Memphis library system and the Frayser branch is responsible for covering one of the largest service areas, with a population of about 45,000 residents. In order to serve its population, the library offers a range of seminars and activities to keep members of every age interested and active.
“We offer seminars and workshops on topics that appeal to our community,” said Dean Moore, library Manager at the Frayser branch. “One of those topics is childcare. Frayser has the largest number of licensed daycare facilities in the Memphis area, it's a major economic driver and we have been catering to it for years.”
Moore said he has lived in Frayser for 15 years and is very involved in the community so he tries to model the library programs to respond to the issues that are prevalent. The branch houses a large collection of auto literature, which is a popular draw for anyone working in the auto industry or working on personal car projects. Childcare professionals can attend a series of continuing education seminars that the Frayser library hosts along with several other library branches.
Another popular service is free tax assistance. Four times per year the library has trained IRS preparers on hand to help visitors complete, submit and file their taxes. Originally this was an annual event but it was so popular that the branch added three more dates to serve all the community members in need.
Moore said the classes are almost always full in their small meeting room at the Frayser branch and that what the community really needs is a new library with larger facilities.
“It’s a definite, definite need, there’s no doubt about it. Having a larger location would radically transform what we’re able to do in public services,” said Moore. “I see the impact that a newer, larger facility would provide and what a game-changer a modern library would be for this community.”
The strength of the library is in its ability to meet the needs of the Frayser community on a near constant basis. If a staff member sees a problem that could be resolved by a workshop or a group of children who are coming into the library with nothing to do, they have been known to put something together to address the issue.
Donna Moore, Circulation Supervisor at the Frayser branch, said that it’s just about getting the community to see that the library is fun and interesting.
“You just have to find out what their interest is and turn that into an educational topic,” she said. “It's an ongoing process trying to find the kids and meet them where they are then engage them. You have to ask the right questions to find out what they really want or need.”
Recently Donna Moore led a sewing workshop at the library and brought her sewing machine to teach attendees how to make a pillow. One of the girls who attended had the idea of sewing a phone pocket in the side of her pillow to hang down next to the bed.
“It's great being able to see them think creatively,” she said.
This little library is doing big things with the Frayser community and Dean Moore said he just hopes that a new facility can be built in order to serve more people in the area. He envisions a library with a coffee shop, an auditorium for larger seminars, and meeting space for local organizations.
Dean Moore said that the library system knows what a success the Frayser branch is because the director will sometimes drop in to show it to visitors as a success story for small libraries.
“She'll ask me, ‘What are you doing? Are you giving away money?’ She knows every time they come in there will be something going on and people using the facility,” he said.
Although Dean Moore wants to grow the library, he had nothing but praise for his staff and what their facility accomplishes.
“I take real pride and delight in what we do. There are people that wouldn't have access to these things due to their socio-economic status and it gives me tremendous pride to know that we can provide that. It might not seem like much, but for someone to be able to come in and complete their homework or get their taxes done free of charge is really important and it gives me a lot of satisfaction to assist in that.”