Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The House Tuscaloosa promotes educational, spiritual and musical literacy

Courtesy of The House Tuscaloosa

After working within local churches for years, Lori Maxey felt the need to serve the community in a more hands-on way. Her husband always had a dream to own a used bookstore, and that’s when The House Tuscaloosa was created.  

“We started a literacy center and used bookstore with the hopes of creating a third space for people who need community,” Lori Maxey, co-founder and executive director of The House Tuscaloosa, said. “We wanted it in the West End community because this is an area of town that doesn’t have a lot of services in it.” 

The House Tuscaloosa is a local used bookstore and literacy center located in Stillman College and exists to promote literacy educationally, spiritually and musically throughout the West End community.  

To promote reading, The House Tuscaloosa partners with local middle and elementary schools by giving students access to free “Birthday Books.” Additionally, the organization sells books through First Book at reduced rates. After purchasing the first book, students can trade books in at the bookstore for a free second book.  

The service is available at Central Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Oakdale Elementary, University Place Elementary and Westlawn Middle School.  

“People who are interested in buying books can do so for cheap, and we do that to get books into the hands of the community,” Maxey said. “Literacy rates improve and reading rates improve just by having access to books, and when you’re living at a low-income level, you don’t have money to go buy books.”  

Along with promoting educational literacy, Maxey also has the goal of increasing spiritual literacy in the community.  

“I had worked in local churches for years and years and was feeling that I really needed to get out of that and serve in the community,” Maxey said.  

The House offers a weekly Bible study for individuals high school age or older over Zoom. The Bible study is currently going through the Gospel of Mark. From Aug. 8 to Nov. 7, the organization is also hosting a community Grief Share at the facility.  

Maxey said that ensuring that the bookstore acted as a third space for individuals who are seeking community was a priority. That sentiment rings true for Adebola Aderibigbe, a sophomore at Stillman College majoring in journalism. The House has become Aderibigbe’s mini oasis from her day-to-day responsibilities.   

“It’s like my getaway from campus,” Aderibigbe said. “Being an international student who doesn’t have access to a car, I get bored easily. So, this place is like my mini getaway.”  

The House consists of reading rooms and study spaces. The rooms are a variety of sizes and include various personalized touches. In addition to the study spaces, there is a kids’ room dedicated to children’s books for all ages.  

“It’s good [to have these study areas] because you have the whole place to yourself, it’s quiet and most times I bring my laptop to do my assignments here,” Daphne Ayodele, a sophomore majoring in biology at Stillman College, said. 

Community members who are seeking a spot to gather or study with a group can reserve a place by filling out the form on The House’s website. 

The use of the original structure of The House creates a peaceful oasis for all visitors to enjoy.  

Peyton Joos, a freshman majoring in hospitality management, started volunteering at The House on Sept. 13 and enjoys The House’s welcoming environment. 

“I love it here, it’s so cute,” Joos said. “There’s a lot of great opportunities to find books of any genre here.” 

Maxey wants to continue improving the atmosphere of the center through add-ons like rugs and an upgraded kitchen area.  

Maxey said that this experience has taught her how to handle unexpected difficulties. She wants others to gain confidence in the realm of literacy and beyond. 

“If you have a vision or a dream, don’t give up on it. You have to keep going and keep pursuing it, even if nobody around you is as excited as you are,” Maxey said.  

UA students who want to volunteer can go through BamaPulse or can go directly to The House Tuscaloosa’s website. 

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