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After 51 years in Adair, Bookmobile is making more stops than ever

  • Book Mo'Bill Bill and ACPL Bookmobile play important role in county culture
  • Melissa and Jacob Ellis family represent one of growing number of residential clients

Photo accompanies this story
By Ed Waggener
Bill Bailey makes house calls.

Time was when the Adair County Bookmobile's stops were mostly to county schools and country stores.

That's how it was 51 years ago, when Adair County got it's first bookmobile. But today, it's different. "There are a lot more stops. We're adding to the route all the time," he said. "Our biggest circulation is directly to the homes," Mr. Bailey, whose official title is Adair County Library Bookmobile Librarian, said. "I make house calls."

Mr. Bailey has held the job for 14 years. He was a full time farmer before that. "I heard about the opening through the grapevine, came in and applied, and I've been loving it ever since."

He drives the bookmobile five days a week, he said, and his full time job is becoming a part-time one. "I've just about retired from farming," he says. One of his biggest stops is at the home of Melissa and Alfred Ellis place at Ellis Town.

The bookmobile librarian makes this stop every month; others on his rounds get visits on one-to-three month cycles.

Bookmobile much lighter after stop at Ellises

After the June 30th stop, when we were there, the bookmobile was 35 books and 10 or 11 magazines lighter, creating a perceptible spike in the Janice Holt Giles Memorial/Adair Public Library circulation figures.

The bookmobile stop is a major part of the Ellises' educational program, though still it represents just a fraction of the books they read. "We have our own library," Mrs. Ellis said, "and we are constantly combing library sales, thrifts, and yard sales for good books."

The Ellis home school making the big home library a household essential. The reading program at the farm gets an impetus from one other striking feature: By policy and preference, the Ellises do not own a Tv.

The Ellises usually give their location as Pellyton, borrowing on the wider fame of that northern Adair County, practically in Casey County. But Mr. Ellis is quick to point out that Ellis Town once rivalled Pellyton and that it is named for one of his forebears who received a section of land for service in the War of 1812.

Back in Ellis hands after several years

The present farm is 167 acres of that original grant, but Alfred and Melissa's portion hasn't been in the family continuously. they bought it a few years back.

On the early summer day of Bill Bailey's visit, it was a zippety-doo-dah day, with countless cats, dogs, ducks, chickens, and larger farm animals playing about. Even the bull frogs seemed happy.

The kids are. Bikes, trikes, and wagons abound. There is a fenced off pond for supervised fishing, woods and meadows to roam, and plenty of domestic animals and domesticated pets. On Bill Bailey's last visit, the excitement was over a new one, proudly heralded by Mariah, the outgoing seven-year-old whose demeanor seems so like her mother's. "We've got a baby raccoon," she announced, and little Hope affirmed the acquisition, stretching her arms, showing how big it was, to her: A whopper!Alfred and Melissa Ellis met in Campbellsville, KY. He's a native Adair Countian. She's an incomer from Taylor County, but seems well acclimated now. They met at St. Mark's United Methodist Church. Rev. Doug Moseley was pastor at St. Mark's back then, and Alfred, a product of Adair County Schools, remembers Rev. Moseley's wife, Betty Jean Moseley, as a favorite English teacher at Adair County High School.

Father-in-law couldn't scare him out of the marriage

He won't let his wife forget the disclaimer his then future father-in-law gave him right before the wedding. "She's high strung," he said. "You're aware of that, aren't you?"

Alfred Ellis remembers, "I thought to myself. This is a fine time to be telling me. We were already putting on our tuxes." Ron Wise, then practicing CPA, now Vice President at Taylor County Bank, is Melissa Wise Ellis' father. No matter about that limited warranty, they were in love and the wedding came off, otherwise, without a hitch.

"She's mellowed," Alfred Ellis grins, out of Melissa's range. "She's not as saucy now."

Melissa is a registered nurse. At first the couple followed her professional career as it required moves from town to town. She worked with home health organizations. He could always get work as a carpenter, so the frequent moves seemed to work well, to be sort of an adventure.

Ellis Town place was dream opportunity

But when the old Ellis farm came up for sale, they decided that the Ellis Town place was their dream opportunity. It had all the outbuildings needed, and it had a big frame, Amish-built home constructed by John Detwiler. It was just right for a growing family.

The farm had been spared the tornadoes which ravished the Pellyton area two years in a row. Alfred's carpentry work came in handy. The homestead is, like the old Harvey's Department Store in Nashville, a place that is always being remodeled. "I'm still working on it," Alfred Ellis says.

There are now seven children in the family. The youngest, Ruthanna, was just four weeks old at the time of the story. And there's no doubt he was a very-much-wanted young lady. She's got six doting older siblings, Jacob, 16; Ethan, 15; Seth, 10; Mariah 7; John Samuel, 4, and Hope, one and one-half. "You kind of regenerate yourself every time a little one comes along," their proud father says.

Place is virtually self-sufficient

"We're virtually self-sufficient here," Alfred Ellis said. "We raise almost all our own food. We even sell some eggs and beef," he said. He still supplements the family income with carpenter work, but only to the extent of need.

The family eats fresh vegetables from the garden. They have beef cattle for consumption on the farm as well as ducks, sheep, rabbits and chickens. "We can and freeze," he added.

The ponds have plenty of bluegill, bass, and crappie, all of which are part of the Ellises' diet. There are big turtles in the pond too, which some neighbors, but not the Ellises, like.Though the ducks are a good source of protein for the neighbors who get them, the turtles own diet includes small ducklings, Mr. Ellis said. That's sad, he said, but it's part of life.

Became clients of Book Mo'Bill right after move to farm

The Ellises became clients of the Bookmobile when they learned of the service through a Pellyton relative. "We contacted the library and Mr. Bailey has been stopping ever since," Melissa Ellis said.

They know the days he is coming. They've worked out to be his first stop after he breakfasts at the Warren's Store at Pellyton.

Bookmobile librarian sets the schedule

The Bookmobile Librarian said that the schedule set up for each of his visits is arranged with input from readers. But clients can't dictate exact times. "In the end," he said, "I set the schedule so I can best serve everybody," he said.

Bill Bailey is married to the former Dorthy Pendleton. They have two daughters, Beth Hancock, and Ann Dial. He's still acclaimed around a wide area as a musician, if that need be said with his surname. And he remains very devoted to Bear Wallow United Methodist Church.
If you'd like to be on Book Mo'Bill's Route, information for contacts and other library information, is below:
The Janice Holt Giles Memorial Library
(Adair County Public Library)
307 Greensburg St.
Columbia, KY 42728
Phone 270-384-2472
Hours: M 8-6; T-F, 8:4:30; Sat. 8-12
Lee Ann Jessee, Director; Jewell Kimbler, Assistant Director; Lisa Burton, Children's Librarian; Ernestine Bennett, Genealogy Director; and Bill Bailey, Bookmobile Librarian.
J.D. Zornes is chairman of the library board which also includes members Tammy Humphress, Bonnie Rodgers, Mary Knight, and Bobbie Coomer.

The board meets each second Monday at the library, at 12:05 noon.

This story was posted on 2005-07-15 12:14:37
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Book Mo'Bill makes house calls

2005-07-15 - Ellis Town, KY - Photo Ed Waggener. One of Bill Bailey's favorite house calls is to the Melissa and Alfred Ellis homestead at Ellis Town, north on the outskirts of Pellyton, KY. Above, front row, are John Samuel, 4; Seth, 10; and Mariah, 7, holding cat; back row: Jacob, 16, with shy little Hope, one and one-half years old; mom, Melissa, with four-week old Ruthanna; Ethan, 15; father, Alfred Ellis, and the Book Mo'Bill himself, Adair County Library Bookmobile Librarian, Bill Bailey.
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