The seven branches of Albemarle Regional Library are always ready to serve the residents of Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties. Each branch library serves its location, but they also combine to provide unified service to all of the region.

All you need is a library card for access to over 165,000 books, 12,000 DVDs and 2,000 Books-on-CD - with all the collections growing. Using that same card, ARL patrons can access digital offerings, so you can read e-books (over 206,000), watch e-videos (more than 2600 available) or listen to audio books (almost 53,000) when you can’t get into the library itself.

During this pandemic, many patrons started exploring online options, and ARL is committed to helping all find what they need.

I actually began my term as director in March 2020, just as the world pivoted to deal with shutdowns and new concerns. While you might think of the library in old-fashioned terms, ARL has moved with these new times that are both changing and challenging.

Besides enhancing our digital offerings, ARL reopened with COVID-safe practices and protocols after just a few weeks last year. All items in circulation are sanitized using a UV lamp; there are sanitizer stations in place; and all staff work diligently to make sure everything is cleaned and sanitized for your safety. We thank all patrons for following the (sometimes-changing) rules we have in order to protect all library users.

DID YOU KNOW? The Rev. Dr. P.A. Bishop, a Rich Square native, was pastor to five churches (three in Northampton, one in Bertie and one in Hertford) and an entrepreneur. Dr. Bishop was chair and organizer of The Roanoke-Chowan Credit Union, the largest business complex for African-Americans in the region, and he constantly looked for ways to support and advocate for the people in our corner of the state.

Among many of his accomplishments, Dr. Bishop organized the first Black public library with a bookmobile to serve the Northampton County area, and, in 1959, the county renamed its “Negro Branch Library” (in Rich Square) the “PA Bishop, Sr. Library.”

Dr. Bishop’s wife, Viola, taught mathematics at Rich Square Institute (later W.S. Creecy School), and served as the first school librarian at Creecy. On Saturday, Sept. 25, ARL, in partnership with the Bishop family and author Shelia B. Moses, dedicates the Programming Room at Northampton Memorial Library in Jackson in honor of the Bishops, thanking and recognizing them for the work they did to further culture and enhance the lives of the people in the Albemarle Region.

You can learn more about the Bishop family and other local history facts by visiting your local library branch.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Let ARL help you get ready for Halloween. Go to for a short sampling (100 items) of some of the Halloween-related titles in the system, and let that launch you into spooky, eerie, and fun reading, listening, and viewing.

These titles cover all ages, with some favorite authors, like Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as some well-known monsters. However, some of you might like to start closer to home: ARL has several books by the late Roy F. Johnson about our region, especially the holiday-friendly Witches & Demons in History & Folklore.

Patrons can track events for all the branches of ARL by following the Albemarle Regional Library on Facebook and connect with all library resources at

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please contact me at, or call (252) 358-7832.

Hugh H. Davis is Director of Albemarle Regional Library. His interests range from Shakespeare and Milton to the Muppets and Doctor Who. He can be contacted at

Thadd White is Group Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be reached via email at