Sylvia McAdam never expected to spend her summer putting down woodchips on the lawn of the Sandy Springs Library.
“I was going to lay out,” she said. “I was going to get a tan.”
As part of her relaxation plan and once her son graduated high school, McAdam went to the library on Mount Vernon Road to find a romance novel. Instead of finding a book, she says she found knee-high grass, weeds, trash and tree limbs on the grounds.
“It looked awful,” she said. “I didn’t even go inside.”
Instead, she went home and told her husband, Don, “We needed to go cut the grass at the library. This was on a Saturday. On Monday, I started calling Fulton County.”
McAdam got in touch with the libraries’ maintenance division and discovered that due to cutbacks in library services, the library lawn was not being maintained. In January the Fulton Board of Commissioners voted to cut the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System’s budget by $6 million, which resulted in a cut in hours and a reduction in staff.
They “told me, ‘No, the grass hadn’t been cut at the library,’ and ‘No, the grass wasn’t going to be cut at the library.’”
McAdam and her husband now spend about 45 minutes every day working to give the library a facelift. He weeds; she lays down woodchips.
But they haven’t been alone. Walking over the library’s 2 acres of grounds, McAdam says they received some much needed help from some 30 members of the varsity football team at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.
“They put out tons of woodchips, picked up all the branches, wheelbarrowed loads of trash, including 27 baby diapers and Hardee’s wrappers,” she said, adding that the library has no exterior water due to a broken line, and that debris is routinely clogging the storm drains.
“It’s not supposed to be this way,” she said.
Naomi Harper, publicity chairwoman of the volunteer group Friends of the Sandy Springs Library, said McAdam is helping to provide a much needed service. “It is very much needed for a public facility as important as we are,” she said. “The grounds looked pitiful. I can already tell her group has made a lot of difference, but there is still much more that needs to be done.”
Other groups like the Rotary Club of Sandy Springs and Art Sandy Springs have also pledged to help, McAdam said, adding that students from Mount Vernon will have a work day at the library on Sept. 11.
“No one has turned me down,” said McAdam. “I really think that [the library] just needs a little love, that it can be really be beautiful. It doesn’t have any flowers now, but it needs flowers, and could have flowers. It seems like [a lot of services have] been cut. I feel like this is something Sandy Springs needs to pick up and work out, even if it means Fulton County gives some of the property to Sandy Springs, because they have a vested interest.”
To that end, McAdam started a Facebook page called “Sandy Springs Library Grounds Restoration.” She is planning workdays the second and fourth Saturday of each month, starting in September, from 9 a.m. to noon.
“I’m not saying it needs to be a John Wieland entrance, but it ought to look nice,” McAdam said, pointing to the awning over the library’s entrance where paint is peeling off, and sidewalks that need to be pressure washed.
“We’ve done a lot with very limited time. I think if we could build a public/private coalition and get people to donate time, services and maybe some money. I’d love for the library to be open more hours and have Wifi access in the whole building, but at this point we just need to start small and take care of the maintenance out here.”