The end of the best chapter

Cullman County Public Library Children’s Librarian Jamelle Dimbo holds last storytime before retirement

Jamelle Dimbo assists children at the craft table during her final storytime with CCPLS. (Photo courtesy of Renee Welsh)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Tuesday morning, Jamelle Dimbo sat for her last storytime with children at the Cullman County Public Library. Wednesday was her final day there before she retires after years of service as the Children’s Librarian.

Jamelle shared with The Tribune, “I have been here for two or three years, but I was an elementary librarian at Hanceville for about eight years, and I worked for Birmingham City for about 20 years. When I retired from the City of Birmingham, I wanted to do something to give back because our community was one such that was always supported. Whether it be prayers, finances, food, our community just came together and supported our children.”

“I have always worked with children. I did middle school for one year, but I only lasted the one year,” she laughed.

Cullman County Public Library Director Sharon Townsend spoke on her time with Jamelle, saying, “Jamelle joined us in 2018, just to help us for a few months. We kept talking her into staying a little longer until finally she agreed to a permanent part time position. She created new programs and activities to educate and entertain children. She incorporated more community involvement. North Alabama Agriplex has shared many programs, as well as Merchants Bank, Cullman Electric Co-op, Peinhardt Farms, several local artists, therapy dogs and even a therapy horse (yes, we had a miniature horse IN the library) named Star.

Director Townsend continued, “As Jamelle added more community involvement to her storytime programs, it added more partnership opportunities for the library system as a whole. I will miss Jamelle, and am thankful God put her in my path. He surely shines through her and will continue to do so.”

Fellow librarian, Josephine Harrington, offered kind words as well, saying, “She’s been great for the library in her time here! She started up our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and she’s been very involved in our Summer Learning Programs and storytime and all sorts of children’s activities. The kids and their parents love her.  She just has this sort of approachable, fun atmosphere about her. I’m sure everyone will be sad to see her go! They (and we) are really going to miss her!”

The Friends of the Public Libraries of Cullman County have also worked closely with Jamelle, with member Renee Welsh sharing her story of her first meeting with the Children Librarian, “One of the first things my husband and I would do when our careers brought us to a new area— a new home— we would find the nearest library and get our library card. On that day, a few years ago, we met Jamelle— her genuine love for youth and mastery of the reference interview was evident. She focused on our family’s interests— what makes us smile – our past journeys.” 

“As my journey with the Friends of the Cullman County Public Libraries continued, it was apparent that Jamelle wasn’t just the children’s librarian— she is an advocate for all patrons of Cullman County; whether it be ensuring all pre-K children have access to a program (home school, private and public) or creating a flexible and accommodating environment for parents and guardians to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday parade. Even stuffing hundreds of Lunar New Year bags during the pandemic so families could learn about the Year of the Ox —Jamelle’s superpower of caring for the CCPLS patrons shines across the circulation desk and into the hearts of all who visit the Cullman Library.”

Bookmobile driver and librarian Willette Harbison also shared, “The moment I met Miss Jamelle several years ago at the library, I immediately liked her.  She has this big smile and infectious laugh that will make any day brighter. Jamelle has a fellow librarian and loves children. She has recently volunteered to go out into the community with me on the bookmobile to help and enjoy them. She has convictions and is a dedicated person to her church, her profession and to the education of all children. She will be sorely missed.”

Local parent Suzanne Lee often brings her children to the library for activities or storytime and reflected back on Ms. Jamelle’s continuous presence and contributions. “Jamelle loves the library, and she loves her library families. She greets everyone with such warmth and kindness. My children and I always enjoy seeing her when we visit,” said Lee.

Tuesday morning, Jamelle Dimbo sat with her students for storytime as the children’s librarian at Cullman County Public Library, just as she has countless times before. Children giggled and clambered about as she greeted each one by name. Some rushed to offer hugs and hellos, as the rest settled in to hear the book.

The morning was like any other and the story was “One Frog Sang” written by Shirley Parenteau and illustrated by Cynthia Jabar, as children counted throughout the story with Ms. Jamelle, assisting with frog noises and questions of their own along the way.

As it concluded, Jamelle shared a final thought on her lifelong passion and career, “You know, it is funny. When I look back on when they have those things where they ask you as a child, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’”

She smiled, “Well, I have always wanted to be a librarian. Always.”

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