Reagan Bussells and Lisa Rowell

Reagan Bussells (left) is the new librarian of the Albertville Public Library. She succeeds Lisa Rowell (right). Rowell is retiring and successfully brought the library into the digital age. Bussells said she wants to build on the foundation Rowell laid and expand programming at the library.

Lisa Rowell retired as Albertville’s librarian after nearly a quarter century on the job.

Rowell became the librarian in 1994 after serving as a teacher at Albertville Middle School. She said it was during maternity leave that she decided to change careers.

“Even as a little girl, I loved books,” Rowell said. “I can close my eyes and still see all the books I had. I had gotten a bachelor in elementary education. While I was on maternity leave, my teachers certificate was about to run out, so I decided to do something I love.”

Rowell became only the third librarian in Albertville’s history. Gladys Brannon was the first librarian, serving in a library in the Masonic Lodge in 1939. The library closed in 1943 due to World War II and later reopened in a room on the second floor of the old Albertville City Hall.

Brannon resigned in 1964 when the new library was built at its current location. Mona Frix served as the city’s second librarian until she retired in 1994, which was when Rowell took over the librarian’s duties.

Rowell said her primary job was to get the library automated and updated with modern technology. She said previous library boards had a vision to turn the building’s attic into a children’s section, so that was on the “to do” list as well.

She said cataloging and bar coding the library’s collection was labor intensive work, but she enjoyed it.

Rowell also got to spend a couple of weeks on the job getting to know the new librarian, Reagan Bussells.

Bussells is from Selma and grew up in Tuscaloosa. She graduated from auburn University with a degree in history. After working briefly at Auburn, she went to Texas Tech and received a degree in museum science.

She lived in the Washington, D.C., metro area for 12 years. During that time she worked at a variety of museums, including the National Archives, the University of Maryland and the U.S. Capitol.

She made the move to Albertville after reconnecting with Larkin Deason. She said she had known Deason since she was 18-years-old. They reconnected through Facebook and were married.

She said after moving to Albertville she became aware there would be an opening at the Albertville Public Library.

“There is a lot of correlation between museum science and library science as far as cataloging and inventory,” Bussells said. “In a library, you are a steward of education. Lisa brought the library into the 21st Century. She brought us from the card catalogue to digital. Those are going to be huge shoes to fill. I’m going to be coming at it from a programming standpoint.”

She said one ongoing program at the library is Kids and Kin, a group that focuses on issues where children are being raised by relatives.

Bussells said she wants to create a stronger connection between the veterans memorial on the library property and local veterans.

“We’re going to put up a veterans display,” Bussells said. “We found some real treasures in the library and we’re going to put them in the display. We also will be putting up a map and are encouraging veterans to come by and put a pin on the map where they served.”

Bussells said she’d been on the job about two weeks and had benefitted from Rowell’s insight and experience at the library.

Rowell said she was going to enjoy retirement and was looking forward to spending more time with her children and four dogs as well as her husband of 39 years, Jimmy.

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