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Come by the front of the library at the end of next week, and you may not recognize the place.
We've been conducting informal and utterly useless polls on our website for about a year now.
Like most new community features of Wimberley, the "Village Library" began as an idea shared by a few civic-minded individuals and a small collection of donated books housed in the Chapel-in-the-Hills in 1976. The generous donation of land by the Johnson family led to the construction of the library on its present site in 1978. The planners borrowed the design of Texas homes built in the nineteenth century and nestled it among well-established trees. The library was named "The Village Library of Wimberley" - a name thoughtfully chosen to reflect its spirit of community warmth and service.
From the air, the library building outline today resembles the letter "T". From FM 2325, the Blanco Highway, the stone and wood exterior blends with its surroundings, concealing the parking lot behind the building and its additions. The library building has been enlarged three times: In 1984, the children's room was doubled in size, in 1996, a computer lab for the public was created and in 2000 a 4,000 square foot addition was constructed.
A milestone was reached in 1984. After eight years of dedicated work and careful planning, the Village Library met all required standards to become an accredited public library by the State of Texas and, on that basis, obtained membership in the Central Texas Library System. The library has maintained state standards for small public libraries ever since. The library was renamed "The Village Library and Cultural Center of Wimberley" and a vision of a complex of educational and civic buildings seemed possible. It was not to be. The Texas real estate market collapsed. The library endured. and even began to grow again.
In 1995, library staff and volunteers purchased its first library software program and converted all the typed library book records to computer. By then, there were over 11,000 books in the library; it took almost an entire year to complete the transition. About that same time, the library first offered dial-up Internet Access for public use.
By 1998, the library board was again looking at building expansion plans and seeking funds.
In 1999, the library received its largest grant to date. The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund board provided funds to purchase and install twelve public Internet-accessible computer workstations and a dedicated connection and high quality cabling. The help of Wimberley Independent School District and its key personnel has magnified those funds tremendously. A team of unsung heroes has worked with the staff to keep the system up to date.
In order to best insure reliable funding for the library, voters of the community created a special district, empowered to receive 1/2 of 1% of the sales tax collected in the district. The Library District incorporated the same territory as the Wimberley Independent School District. The library was again renamed. It became the Wimberley Village Library to both clearly mark the transition and to honor its village heritage and spirit. The charter Board of Trustees elected that year was: Linda Hewlett, President; Steve Schubert, Vice-President; Joan Heath, Secretary: Mel Larkin, Treasurer; and Cal Neill, Facilities Manager. When President Hewlett became the first mayor of Wimberley in 1999, she resigned her library position. Steve Schubert became President and Carolyn O. Thomas was appointed to fill her unexpired term. She served as Vice-President. Mel Larkin resigned when she left the community later that year and Jack McLaughlin was appointed to fill her unexpired term.
Ground was broken in June of 2000 for a building addition project. It included renovations to the circulation area, the addition of a new non-fiction wing to the west and workroom to the north including an office for the Librarian, a Trustees office and spaces for a variety of functions involved with materials-processing and repair. The Library now encompasses more than 7,000 square feet of floor space. The project was completed in the spring of 2001.
In 2008, ground was broken once again. This time to add over 1,400 square feet of floor space on the west side of the building past the non-fiction shelving. This area now houses the Louise Johnson Fiction Area, the Book Club Collection, the Spanish Collection, and Wimberley Independent School District textbooks. There are also two patron access computers and several tables for studying and lap top use. This expansion allowed the library to renovate the room that held the Fiction Collection. It is now called the Friends of the Wimberley Village Library Multi-Purpose Room. This room is used for non-profit groups and individuals to meet as well as a space for the library to hold programs.
The library has shown continued, strong growth in its usage and services. In 2002, there were visits by 27,000 patrons, who checked out 67,000 items. In 2003, several new types of materials were introduced, and a wider spectrum of services initiated. In 2004, nearly 50,000 patrons visited the library and checked-out over 100,000 items, including books, videos, books on tape and CD, periodicals, and others. The computers are always busy. Patrons can avail themselves of not only the materials on the shelves, but can order hard-to-get or out-of-print books, etc., to be brought in through the inter-library loan system since our library is an active partner in the Texas library system. In 2010, the library had over 39,000 available items on the shelves. The library also circulated 131,707 items and had almost 63,000 visitors. Throughout the year the staff and volunteers present educational and informational programs for both children and adults, including story time for pre-schoolers, story time for toddlers, and programs for adults. The library is also used by several local organizations as a meeting-site.
To mention one benefactor is to assure that others equally vital are omitted unintentionally. Each Village Library board member, every committee member, every library volunteer, every librarian, every Wimberley resident have formed the library today. A number of plaques honoring donors are displayed in the public hallway leading to the staff workroom. A much more detailed account of the early years of the Wimberley Village Library, and other Wimberley places, is available in a delightful history by Linda Allen entitled Wimberley: a Way of Life. Ask for it at the main desk of the Wimberley Village Library.