Harper, Texas...All the hard work and volunteers for the past six years will be rewarded on Sunday, April 10 with the Grand Opening celebration of the newly remodeled Harper Library. With almost 4,000 sq. ft. of space which previously was a welding shop, but now transformed into a first class library that services all of Western Gillespie County, part of Kimble County and the many travelers on U.S. 290.
How did this dream begin? Six years ago a handful of residents decided the community needed its’ own library, as it was an almost 50 mile round trip to Fredericksburg or the Kerrville libraries. Another significant void in the Harper area was the lack of fax and copy services, as well as no DVD/VHS rental businesses. The word was spread and items started arriving at the small rental house where the efforts began for the volunteers. There are so many great success stories for the early years; one being a Kerrville resident, Ms. Jeanne Ross, a retired librarian who wanted to help, and she did starting the volunteers in the right direction of how to log in and sort the donations, and operate a library.
As with any challenging project a Board of Directors was elected, By-laws written, obtained a non-profit 501(c)3 and the opening of the Library in 2005 and celebrating National Library Week at the same time. The doors were finally opened to the public. It soon became apparent there was not enough room in this small house and the search started for new larger facilities. With the help of Rev. Mike Weaver and Wild Ride Ministries the Harper Library was able to rent a building from them which required little renovations. During the five years in the rental property it was soon obvious to the Board and volunteers they needed to plan for the future and a more permanent residence.
With ongoing fund raisers such as The Attic Sale, Saturday in the Park, ongoing raffles and the very popular 4th of July Celebration at the Double B Resort outside of Harper and the Grant Writing Team the Library started an exciting transformation. New professional library furniture and shelving were purchased from grants received from The Tocker Foundation and L.C.R.A. Personal laptop computers arrived after a Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation grant, and Tocker came to help again with a grant automating the inventory with Biblionix. Biblionix is a library computer management system.
Up until 2010 the Harper Library received only $4,000 from Gillespie County Commissioners, which clearly illustrates the hard work and dedication of the Board and volunteers to keep the Library open and serving the public. This year the Library received $6,000 from Gillespie County and it is expected to be ongoing. It became apparent a regular revenue source had to be developed and thus was born The Harper Library Resale Shop in May 2008.
The Library Resale Shop began in a remodeled 1938 Sinclair Gas Station, with the limitations of any small space. With the help of the Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation a start-up grant was received and some store furniture and supplies arrived. It was obvious more was needed and Belk Department Store in Kerrville wanted to help with donations of clothing racks, an endless supply of hangers and good advice. Again the community stepped up and the donations started to arrive. Three hard-working and dedicated volunteers (Kathryn Jenschke, Glenda Rusin and Kathleen Keller) with a ‘can do attitude’ got the store up and running and it opened on May 1, 2008. After a year of financial success and community support it became obvious a larger place was needed as the working conditions were not contusive for the volunteers.
The Resale Shop proved to be a much needed business for the Library and the community. Unfortunately a decision was made there was just not enough room at this location so everything was closed and packed up into storage units. The search for a larger building began that would accommodate both the Library and the Resale Shop.
The Sanders Ranch & Farm Supply facility became available and with positive negotiations the Library purchased the building. After the loan closing the Resale Shop was up and running in two weeks. There were some big improvements of enclosing a large carport, but the cost was paid for by the Resale Shop revenues.
The Grant Writing Team got to work to get grants to cover the $165,000 plus remodeling cost of the rear 4,000 sq. ft. that had formerly been a welding shop. With $100,000 in grants from the Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation, Fish Foundation, Dian Owen Graves Foundation, Cailloux Foundation, and local donations from a ’Own a Piece of the Library Campaign’, revenue from the Resale Shop and the Building Fund the remodeling project was started in November of 2010 by Don Yount Construction in Fredericksburg. And was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, paid for in March of 2011.
Ms. Tomi Pugh, the Library Director, organized the volunteers, trucks and trailers to move the Library to it’s new location the beginning of March. The community and volunteers worked together and it was successfully moved within a week’s time and now open for business.
The Library is well-known for partnering with other non-profits in the community and one of the strongest partners is with the Harper ISD. This includes sharing their hi-speed 24/7 internet, some tutoring, but best of all the afterhours and summer services offered by the Library.
Six years later the volunteers should be proud of their hard work paying off with the nicest commercial building in town, a first-class library with so many extra services, and a significant positive addition to Harper and the surrounding area.
Harper Library hours: Mon. Closed, Tues. & Wed 9:00-6:00 PM, Thursday 9:00-9:00 PM
Fri. 10:00-5:00 - (830) 864-4993. Sat. 10:00-4:00 PM
Harper Library Resale Shop: Open Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sat.
10:00-2:00 PM - (830) 864-5870