PHOTO: Mayor Rick Graham congratulates Patricia Selle for her work in founding Spring Hill’s library. / Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Longtime Spring Hill resident Patricia Selle was honored by city leaders Monday, where Mayor Rick Graham would officially decree May 4 in Spring Hill to forever be known as Patricia Selle Day, in honor of her dedication to open the city’s first ever library more than 40 years ago.
Serving tens of thousands of people a year, Spring Hill’s current library has been a staple of the community for years, and with a new library set to open soon at the Northfield Center at more than double its current size, its role in the city’s community appears as though it will only grow.
Opening in 1975, the library’s original location on McLamore Avenue was quite smaller than its current day incarnation, but nonetheless, was a central hub for many of the city’s residents. Selle’s son, Chris Selle, grew up on a farm just down the road, and said he had endless fond memories of the old library.
“Some of my fondest memories are when the library was at that little grey building off of Main Street, right across from Big Dogs,” Chris said. “I used to ride my bicycle from the farm, I’d go to the Co-Op and get a coke and a pack of peanuts, and then I would go to the library and sit in there for hours and read. My mother was big on education and big on reading, learning and being well-rounded. My father and my mother always corrected my grammar if I used incorrect grammar, and that’s carried over – my wife and my daughters call me the professor, because I am constantly correcting them.”
In 1974, Spring Hill was quite different than it is today; one traffic light, a few gas stations and the Tennessee Children’s Home were about all its notable features. It also be in 1974 with Selle, along with her children, would collect signatures in the community to express to city leaders their desire for a library. Selle would later purchase the Freedman School on McLamore Avenue for the purpose of starting the city’s first library, and was even quoted in 1974 as saying “I felt like it was very symbolic, as a library is a way of dispensing knowledge, thus freeing men’s minds.”
Finally, on May 3, 1975, Spring Hill’s first library held its grand opening, and has remained a staple of the community ever since.
“She is a savvy business woman,” Chris said. “She’s my hero, I mean she really is. She got her bachelor’s degree at 83, she has a degree in Christian Ministry from a Florida school where she graduated in the top three or four. She’s given back to the community in a lot of different ways.”
Chris continued by saying the library “symbolizes the beginning of the growth of Spring Hill,” and that after glimpsing at the plans for the new library at Northfield, couldn’t be prouder of his mother.
“I’ve driven out to Northfield, and if it’s where I think it’s going to be, it’s basically going to quadruple in size, and that’s just amazing,” Chris said. “When I think about where it was originally, to where it is now, to where it’s going… to know that my mom started that, it makes me very proud of where Spring Hill has gotten.”