collierville library


  •  Launched a new library app called Boopsie, makes downloading digital products more streamlined.
  •  Added     laptops, funded by the Friends of the Library.
  •  Created     backpack kits for children and teens check-out which promote STEM and STEAM
  • Added          items to the Library’s physical collection
  •              items circulated
  • Friends of the Library donated $
  • Secured $         in-kind donations from      local businesses and organizations in support of Summer Reading
  •      Summer Reading programs held with          in program attendance

Library fast facts


Eager Young Reader

Makes Impression on

Collierville Library Staff

Library Features Work of

Local Photographer &


Library Employee Helps

Student Launch New

Chapter in Life

Olympic God Medalist

Rochelle Stevens Exchanges

Fleet Feet for Creative Pen

Young Students Find their

Voices by Reading to

Therapy Dogs

Library Hosts Milestone

Birthday for Regular


Collierville Library Does

Brisk Business with

STEM Backpacks

Five Collierville Students

Make TN Top 100

Readers List

1/3/17 - Five-year-old Barron Russell got his first library card at the Collierville Burch Library over the Christmas holidays, and he was very excited.

When asked what kind of books he likes best, Barron said he liked alphabet and phonics books, and the Arthur and D.W. series by Marc Brown. It was a book called D.W.’s Library Card that gave Barron the idea to get a card for himself. Barron’s mother, Emily Russell said he told her he only needed to know how to write his name to get a library card. “And he said that he could write his whole name!” said Russell.

When Barron was asked why he wanted his own library card, he said “So I can check out any book I want!”

Collierville Burch Library Director Deanna Britton said that 62 readers in the 5 and under group got library cards in 2016. What made Barron Russell so special? “He was just so excited to get his card,” said Britton, “He made a huge impression on the staff.”

Britton gave Barron what could be called a reader’s starter kit: a bookmark, a “Don’t Bug Me, I’m Reading” tag to hang on his bedroom door, and a Jedi bag filled with other library goodies. She said she plans to give out similar “incentives” to 2017’s age 5 and under library card applicants.
1/10/17 - Native Memphian Thomas Tidwell is the Collierville Burch Library’s Artist of the Month for January. Tidwell studied photography and cinematography at what was then Memphis State University 30 years ago. Ten years after launching his photography career, he began painting. Now he combines the 2 art forms into a body of work that takes normal scenes and pushes them into another world with the use of photo enhancement and brilliant color.

Tidwell is a self-taught painter, but he acknowledges the influence of the late Ted Boyer, a local portrait artist, in getting him hooked into the habit of art. The two men were tennis buddies, and Boyer asked Tidwell to sit for a portrait. When Tidwell pointed out a mistake in his painted likeness, Boyer told Tidwell to take a closer look in the mirror. Tidwell did, and realized the detail in his own face that he had missed and Boyer had captured. He fell in love with art and began painting his own canvasses, starting with pictures from magazines as models.

Tidwell advises young painters, and especially those who are self-taught like himself, that it all boils down to practice. He has participated in artists’ organizations in the past, but said that he really just paints because he loves the immersion and escape it provides.

Thomas Tidwell’s art will be on exhibit at the Collierville Burch Library throughout the month of January.

1/13/17 - Collierville Burch Library Director Deanna Britton acknowledges the value of high tech tools in the library, but points out there are some things only flesh and blood librarians can do. She proves the point with the story of staff member Deborah Elam and library patron Sophia Rouse.

“The first time I met Sophia Rouse was my second or third day working in the library,” said Elam.” The first thing she said to me was ‘do you like Germany?’ I thought that was a huge coincidence because I myself have studied abroad in Germany twice, once in high school through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX), and once in college.” Elam went on to say that Rouse’s intense interest in all things German impressed her – the middle schooler had read every non-fiction book in the library and several fiction books as well. In fact, Rouse said it was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak that sparked her interest in the country. Rouse was so intrigued that she began learning German on her own time since it wasn’t offered at her school.

Rouse expressed an interest in the student exchange program that Elam had participated in, but she wasn’t old enough to apply yet. In the meantime, Elam did all she could to help give Rouse a good chance at getting accepted into the program once she was in high school. “I was so excited for her to begin this journey that I knew would be life-changing for her, so I tried to give her all the tips and info I could,” said Elam. She coached Rouse on everything from a typical day in a German school to basic grammar to ideas for her application essays.

When Rouse finally did apply for the program, the first response she received was that she was “wait-listed”. But then another student dropped out of the program and Rouse filled that space. She left for Germany in June 2016, and has been there ever since.

“This is a great example on how a library employee – not Amazon, Facebook or Linked In – changed a life,” said Director Deanna Britton.
2/10/17 - When Olympic Gold Medalist Rochelle Stevens spoke to an audience of 20+ people at the Collierville Burch Library on February 6, she passed on using the podium and presentation screen. “I’m sitting right here,” she said, taking her place at the opposite end of the Halle Room’s long table. “Because this is where I sat two years ago when I was learning how to write my book.”

Stevens attended a workshop on writing and publishing two years ago at the Collierville Burch Library and the experience gave her the tools to ultimately write a book and to tell her story.

"People were always saying I should write a book, so when I saw that the Library was offering this resource, I decided to take advantage of it." When planning what to write, Stevens had lots of material to choose from: growing up in Orange Mound; her travels as a world class athlete; the hours and hours of training in all kinds of weather; and her mother's support and investment in her career. To write her story, Stevens went "old school"; she wrote with lots of pen and paper before having it typed. She found an editor in her 9-year-old nephew, who asked to read her work as it progressed and made suggestions about organization.

Stevens was at the Library to promote her autobiography Travel the World by Foot, which takes readers through Stevens’ life as a child in Memphis to her ultimate triumphs in track and field in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Stevens greeted each attendee to the talk personally. There were several children and middle schoolers there and she gave special attention to bonding with them and encouraging them in their life pursuits. She told the story of how her talent for running was discovered early, and how she was placed in programs where she would be trained and mentored. She also gave the audience several examples of the hard work that followed being “discovered”. Stevens ran competitively for 12 years, and besides giving the basics of what she had to do to reach her career goals, her book gives the reader information about all the exotic places she traveled to during her career.

Travel the World by Foot will soon be available in the Shelby County Schools libraries. Stevens hopes to see it in the Collierville Schools libraries as well, and praised the Collierville Burch Library for the resources and services it offers to the Town’s residents.
3/7/17 - Some people might think you’re crazy if you tell them you read aloud to dogs, but the parents of children who have participated in the Collierville Burch Library’s “Paws for Reading” program would tell them differently.

Jodi Hall is the Youth Services Librarian at the Collierville Burch Library. Around 12 years ago, she started Paws for Reading in conjunction with the library’s regular summer reading program. Collierville was still in the Memphis and Shelby County library system then, and Hall heard about the program through the Main branch location. The concept was that young readers received an opportunity to practice their reading skills out loud to non-critical, unbiased, and pet-able listeners, otherwise known as Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.).

Hall connected with Mid-South Therapy Dogs for more information, and then-director Mary Earhart spoke very candidly to her about what was required for a quality program. “The dogs and their handlers not only go through basic therapy dog training, but they must also take a separate training for the reading program,” said Hall. “It takes a while for them to get vetted. They are watched very carefully and have strict guidelines to follow. They even have insurance.”

Hall said that from the very first summer of the program, Paws for Reading was extremely popular. The initial signup was done in person rather than online, and parents lined up before the library had even opened to grab a spot for their children. One year, she decided to skip the program because she thought it might be getting stale, but the parental outcry was loud and she never did that again. The read aloud sessions are 15 minutes each, and the participants must show up 10 minutes prior to their appointment or forfeit their slot.

“We like to have at least 3 dogs per session, but no more than that because it can get crowded,” said Hall. “So that’s 4 readers per hour for each dog.” There are similar programs around the country and Hall said that Collierville has tweaked its version as most libraries do. A structured, progressive program didn’t work for Collierville, nor did offering the program in the fall. But the standalone summer sessions continue to be wildly popular and most importantly, they work. “There was one little boy whose mother came to talk to me after his first summer in the program,” said Hall. “I didn’t know the extent to which he was having problems reading aloud in school. When his mother spoke to me, she had tears in her eyes. She said that her son had been very embarrassed to read aloud in class and that the program had increased his confidence tremendously. She was so grateful for the program.”
3/10/17 - Mrs. Edith Gurner has been frequenting the Collierville Burch Library since she moved to the Town 8 years ago to live with her son and daughter-in-law. Her favorite book is the Bible, but she also enjoys Christian fiction, historical fiction and mysteries. When a library staff member was updating her card earlier this year, she noticed that “Miss Edith” was about to have a very significant birthday – her 100th!

Library Director Deanna Britton saw an opportunity to celebrate a milestone in the life of a neighbor and fellow book lover. She saw in Miss Edith the joy of a lifelong reader. Britton contacted Mrs. Gurner’s daughter-in-law Beth, and the two got to work planning a party. The festivities started at 1:00 pm on March 3. The Town of Collierville’s double decker bus delivered Mrs. Gurner to the front door of the library at 501 Poplar View Parkway. The library staff took pictures of her with Mayor Stan Joyner and Tennessee Senator Mark Norris in the front lobby, and then everyone filed into the Halle Room for the official party.

Sidna Bookout from the Friends of the Library presented Mrs. Gurner with an honorary membership to the organization, a birthday card and a book bag. “Now I’m going to help you fill up that book bag,” said Britton. “One of the things I’m going to give you is a newspaper with the major headlines of the day you were born.”

“It looks old,” said Mrs. Gurner. “The headline says, ‘President Wilson Notes the Birth of Edith Gurner,” said Britton. “That’s a little exaggeration,” said Mrs. Gurner.

The guest of honor continued to slay the room with her sense of humor as the presentations continued. Senator Mark Norris presented her with a resolution, which he also read aloud. Miss Edith disputed the part about her having a perfect driving record –“I don’t know who told you that” – and corrected his statement about the location of her church membership. Senator Norris assured her the record would show the correction. Besides reading voraciously, Miss Edith enjoys playing canasta and poker, and she also enjoys knitting. She knows the mental, physical and social activity has probably contributed to her longevity, but when asked for her #1 recommendation for a long life, she said it was prayer. “I’ve been saying since I came to work here that if you’re a reader, you live longer,” said Britton. “I think Edith’s life is a testament to that.”
8/8/17 - If you haven’t heard of STEM, you probably don’t know what a STEM kit is. But there are plenty of people who do, and some of their names are on a waiting list at the Collierville Burch Library. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. While these aren’t new subjects in schools or libraries, the STEM approach to teaching them allows students to apply the skills they’re learning to hands on projects and real life situations.

Collierville Burch Library Director Deanna Britton’s initial order was for 28 STEM kits to have available for check-out at the library. “Once they were catalogued, those 28 were checked out within the week,” said Britton. “And there was a waiting list for when they came back in. So we ordered more.” The STEM kits are backpacks containing one learning activity each. The kit contents include Codemaster, a game that teaches logic and coding skills; Cubelets, which are blocks for building a robot; and Google Cardboard, which allows users to travel the world and outer space. The library also has some STEAM kits available, which include creative arts activities like Kids Musical WordPad Piano.

The kits are contained within colorful backpacks, some of which also feature popular characters like the Minions. “In the beginning, we just bought regular backpacks, but then I thought why not add to the experience by making them fun?” said Britton.

Each backpack contains not only the activity, but a laminated list of all of the contents and instructions on using them. Card- carrying Burch Library patrons can check the packs out for two weeks at a time. “We made them available on a Friday, and within one week, with no real advertising, they were all checked out,” said Britton. “As soon as one is returned, they go right back out because they are on hold for someone else.”

The Library staff keeps a notebook at the front desk with a page for each STEM kit and what is in it.
8/14/17 - Five young students in Collierville have been chosen among the Top 100 Readers in Tennessee by First Lady Crissy Haslam. The Read to be Ready Summer Reading Competition started on June 1st and ended on July 28th. Students in kindergarten to 4th grade were challenged to keep track of how much time they spent reading during their summer vacation and to submit the times to the contest.

The winners attended a Kid’s State Dinner at the Tennessee Residence in Nashville on Friday, August 18. Collierville’s winners include 6-year-old Sunaina S. Shetty, first grade at Bailey Station, Sanjeev Balachandran in second grade at Crosswind, Samit Chaubel, 7 years old in second grade, and Neil Jana, in the fourth grade at Bailey Station Elementary School.

Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam welcomed approximately 100 children to a Kids’ State Dinner at the Tennessee Residence on Friday, August 18 to celebrate outstanding achievement in summer reading. In addition to the fun festivities, Governor and First Lady Haslam congratulated the winners and asked children and their families to continue to read together at least 20 minutes each day. The First Lady’s Read20 message is part of her initiative to encourage children and their families to prepare for future success by ensuring strong foundations in early literacy. Children left the evening’s event with goodie bags, certificates signed by Governor and First Lady Haslam, as well as new books to read at home thanks to a generous donation from Scholastic.

“Reading over the summer is incredibly important so that students retain the skills they’ve developed during the year instead of experiencing summer slide,” Mrs. Haslam said. “We decided to hold this competition to encourage Tennessee students and their families to read more together over the summer and to incite them to visit their local libraries, so tonight has been a wonderful way to honor those who did just that.”

  • Launched a new library app called Boopsie, makes downloading digital products more streamlined.
  • Added 4 laptops, funded by the Friends of the Library.
  • Created 33 backpack kits for children and teens check-out which promote STEM and STEAM.
  • Added 9,300 items to the Library's physical collection.
  • 336,957 items circulated.
  • Friends of the Library donated $18,886.
  • Secured $7,750 in-kind donations from 41 local businesses and organizations in support of summer reading.
  • 87 Summer Reading programs held with 2,182 in program attendance.



library fast facts