Library awarded Dobie Grant to boost non-fiction collection

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Members of the Library staff from left are Glenda Van Horn, Shanna Clark, April Hoffman and Director Angela Palmer. The library has been awarded the prestigious Dobie Library Grant to upgrade its non-fiction collecton. This the fifth public library grant award to Liberty Hill in the last two years. (Dana Delgado Photo)

Members of the Library staff from left are Glenda Van Horn, Shanna Clark, April Hoffman and Director Angela Palmer. The library has been awarded the prestigious Dobie Library Grant to upgrade its non-fiction collecton. This the fifth public library grant award to Liberty Hill in the last two years. (Dana Delgado Photo)

By Dana Delgado

The non-fiction collection at the Liberty Hill Public Library got a major boost last week, thanks to a grant from the J. Frank Dobie Library Trust.

“I’m thrilled,” said Library Services Director Angela Palmer. “This is a very difficult grant to get. We will be able to bring our nonfiction collection up to the 21st Century.”

Palmer said she was notified by email that the local library was one of eight sites selected from across the state to receive a grant award that specifically targets collection development. Although the exact amount of the award is not known, Palmer said the grants generally average $8,000. The check for the J. Frank Dobie Library Trust Award will be presented by James Stewart, Trustee of the J. Frank Dobie Library Trust on April 20, during the author luncheon at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference.

According to the criteria established by the J. Frank Dobie Library Trust, awards were made not only on the basis of need, but also on the extent to which community governments, library boards, friends organizations, and individuals promoted and supported the library, in comparison with their potential to do so.

“If we receive $8,000 from this grant, I will be able to purchase approximately 200 new adult non-fiction titles and 250 new children nonfiction titles,” said Palmer. “Our current non-fiction collections at every age level are small, out of date, and have significant gaps in terms of subjects and knowledge.”

Palmer said that a recent intense weeding of the non-fiction collection revealed that juvenile collection had an average copyright date of 1997 while the adult collection averaged a copyright date of 2000. In addition, the Director said, “Our young adult non-fiction is non-existent and the juvenile books are best suited to children from second to fifth graders.”

New non-fiction books are expected to begin arriving at the library this summer and continue through the fall.

“Non-fiction is always real popular and with the new books, we will be able to support school curriculum projects,” Palmer said.

The Dobie Library Trust Award comes on the heels of a $16,000 Robotics Grant awarded to the Liberty Hill Library last fall, one of only 12 statewide recipients. The Robotics Grant, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math through robot building projects, kicked off this January with weekly classes for home-schooled students. Classes will be available to all kinder-eighth grade students this summer. The grant provided for a complete curriculum, materials, staff training and eight laptop computers.

In her first two years as director, Palmer has reeled in five grants to enhance services and materials at the Liberty Hill site. The Tocker Foundation awarded the local library a $5,000 grant and HEB has provided awards the last two years.

“I’m always writing a grant,” Palmer said. “Every little bit helps.”

While grant writing is unending but vital in enriching the library’s collection and services, programming is the library’s lifeblood in keeping the community engaged.

A host of weekly events including Story Time and after school activities is posted on www.facebook.com/LibertyHillPubliclibrary.

The library also has a story time outreach where they travel to 8-12 child care centers and preschools in the area. The library is also collaborating with Santa Rita Ranch, a new Liberty Hill development, for an innovative outreach effort that will provide a variety of unique activities in that neighborhood.

Another popular program at the library is the Barking Book Buddies Program with Divine Canines, therapy dogs that visit once a week to help children struggling with reading.

A Shoe Drive seeking gently used shoes is in progress in support of the Highland Lakes SPCA while the PEEP Diorama Contest wraps up this week with winners being announced April 2 for their creative dioramas currently on exhibit at the library.

Additionally, the library continues to host the Spirit Stick Happy Birthday Club that honors children during their birthday week with a one-of-a-kind Spirit Stick as a birthday present.

The library recently unveiled a collection of gardening books, thanks to a donation from the Liberty Hill Garden Club.

Finally, with summer looming, the library staff is gearing up for its extensive, highly successful summer programs. Among the popular presenters being scheduled, Kim Lehman returns with her Buzz about Bees Program, a special program about honeybees. Lehman is a beekeeper, storyteller, musician, a popular workshop presenter, and founder of an international kids club, Bee Buddies.

Registration for the summer reading program, “Read for the Gold,” gets underway May 23.

Over the last two years, the library has had dramatic increases in its usage according to statistics provided by Palmer. Items circulated have increased by an average of 30 percent while the number of patrons increased by about 14 percent and patron visits surged by just over 35 percent over the past two years. Statistics show that 2016 is on track to exceed all usage categories for the last four years.

With “The Heart of the Hill” as a motto, Palmer said she absolutely sees the library as uniquely placed to become that physical, mental and intellectual center of an increasingly far flung community.

The Liberty Hill Public Library, located at 355 Loop 332, is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. For more information visit www.facebook.com/LibertyHillPublicLibrary.

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