The Texas County Library has locations in four communities in the county.

The Texas County Library and its foundation announced Tuesday night plans to construct a new library in Houston.

Members said during a meeting of the Houston City Council that it was ready to start plans that would increase its offerings in Houston. The news comes after similar projects have brought major improvements at branches at Licking, Cabool and Summersville. The Cabool location recently reopened after a major renovation and expansion. Summersville received a new library. Licking library was the first to receive a makeover.

The delegation asked the council if it had an interest in reviving a 2009 plan that would place the library atop the Houston Storm Shelter at First and Pine streets. The library foundation and the City of Houston obtained $960,000 in federal grants for construction of the 7,200 square foot storm shelter. The local march was 20 percent of the $1.2 million project. The city owns the property.

In its presentation, the groups asked the city to examine the possibility of working with the library system to allow the project to sit as the ground floor at the First and Pine street shelter, or alternately see if it was possible for the library to take title to the property with the approval of  FEMA. It is understood that the FEMA shelter would always be in place.

Houston library

The design for the main branch of the Texas County Library in Houston

In spring 2009, Sapp Design Associates in Springfield completed drawings for the project under a contract with Texas County Library. The floor plan then including community meeting space, administration space for the entire county library system, offices for TRAIN, a local non-profit Internet provider that has since sold; and a computer training lab and early literacy and childhood areas.

At that time, federal stimulus money was available to offset the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the program required title to the property.

The library has been successful in capturing many donations and has benefited from estate planning that left major assets to it. Additionally, endowments have been established. That has been key to its system’s success. The only county taxpayer support it receives is a nearly 10-cent per $100 assessed valuation levy that was approved in 1946.

The Houston project will require a combination of grant funding sources and donations to be successful.

“Let’s work together to see if we can make it happen,” said Mayor Don Tottingham. City staff will research the matter, and report back to the full council.

Representing the library board and foundation were Gwen Ross, Eunice; Janet Fraley, Houston; Audrey Barnhart, Houston; Peggy Holder, Houston; Brad Gentry, Houston; and library director Molly Shelton.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply