Public library growing exponentially

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By Christine Bolaños

Big changes may be coming to the Liberty Hill Public Library if the Board of Directors approves bids for renovations in August. This month’s meeting centered on discussions related to these potential changes aimed at better serving a growing library membership.

“We talked about renovations and looked over bids,” said library Director Angela Palmer. “We discussed what we can afford and can’t afford. We tried to prioritize what we really need to get done and not.”

Renovations include largely cosmetic improvements such as flooring, painting, dry wall construction and lighting. Bids came in at roughly $8,000-$10,000 more than expected. The Board is looking at spending roughly $20,000-$25,000 on renovations.

A renovation timeline that included move out dates and grand opening dates for library renovations in the fall, is on hold until the Board takes its next step.

“Right now we’re trying to get more bids and look into grant possibilities,” Palmer said. “The advisory board will take a formal vote in August. We want to figure out what we can do with the money we have.”

She said ideas include setting up a GoFund Me account to ask the public for donations.

The library is 2,400 square feet and opened 11 years ago. Palmer said due to high traffic volume the library will need to be expanded eventually. For right now, library staff is accepting monetary donations to keep programs going, boxes – specifically 12 by 12 — in case items need to be moved in the near future, and volunteers.

“It’s about 1,000 boxes of books,” Palmer explained. “We have almost 19,000 items.”

Summer reading program participation numbers for June are up significantly from last year. This summer, 760 children signed up for the program, up 23 percent from 2015. One-hundred and nineteen teenagers signed up for the program this year, up 105 percent from last year. Similarly, 317 adults signed up for the program this year, up 101 percent from the previous year.

Items circulated in June came in at 12,351, up 43 percent from 2015. The number of visitors reported was 7,823, up 77 percent from the previous year. There were 260 new cards issues, up 17 percent from June 2015.

Liberty Hill Public Library offered 59 programs as of June, up 20 percent from the previous year. Similarly, program attendance is at 5,942, up 77 percent from 2015.

Palmer attributes the successes largely to word of mouth.

“Getting the word out more and the population of Liberty Hill is growing,” she said. “The library’s reputation is growing.”

She also believes the summer reading program is a step above the rest.

“We have a really good summer reading program,” Palmer shared. “We have something every day, which most libraries don’t. We send our fliers to the schools. We’ve been building our Facebook following. We post on homeschool sites. A lot of it is just word of mouth.”

She said June is typically the busiest month for the library. Library officials are considering opening the facility up for rent on evenings one or two days a month. Cost would be about $25 for an hour or so.

“It would just be on an as needed basis,” Palmer said. “We have nighttime story time, book clubs, so we’ll have to fit it around that. We wouldn’t start that until September when the summer reading program is over and done with.”

The next board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 at the library. The public is invited.

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