BALLINGER - The Carnegie Library in Ballinger is receiving some TLC thanks to generous grants from entities like the Tocker Foundation.

BALLINGER - The Carnegie Library in Ballinger is receiving some TLC thanks to generous grants from entities like the Tocker Foundation.

In March, the library a $50,000 grant for furniture and shelving renovation in the main areas of the library. This grant brings the cumulative grant support from the Tocker Foundation to the Ballinger Carnegie Library to a total of $65,103 over the last several years.

The Tocker Foundation has adopted a goal of promoting Texas public libraries in communities of 12,000 or less. Projects are reviewed for their level of contribution to the community. Grant applications are reviewed by a permanent committee of librarians appointed by the Texas Library Association. Final grant decisions are made by the Foundation’s board of directors.

The Carnegie Library of Ballinger was built in 1906 and is one of the last three remaining Carnegie Libraries in Texas still being used as a public library. The library serves all of Runnels County. "We are truly blessed to have such an amazing building to house our library," said Assistant Librarian Dawn Durham. "Our patrons state they love to just 'be' in our library. Visitors walk in the library and just stand in awe. One can immediately feel the historical significance of the building. We wanted to update our library to meet our patron’s needs without losing the Andrew Carnegie feel."

The Carnegie Library is very much used by the community it serves.

"Our library is important to the community because it is used," Board Member Carolyn Slaughter told members of the Ballinger Noon Lions Club Thursday.

She added, that in May 316 adults checked out 218 books and that 85 patrons came in the library to use the computers.

The library will be closed June 19-23 so the renovations can be completed.

Durham said the journey for the renovation began more than a year ago, when the library welcomed Laura Mahaffey with the Central Texas Library System for a site visit.

"She provided us with a list of expectations and suggestions on how to make our library more efficient and user friendly to our patrons," Durham explained. "Since this date, we have spent many hours meeting with our amazing Board of Director’s to develop plans to renovate the main floor of the library. We spent three months meeting with two separate vendor’s regarding shelving and renovation options and designs. Alan Jirkovsky with South Texas School Furniture is the vendor we chose to implement the design of our library."

Since Ballinger is a small town with few places to gather, we wanted to create a special and safe space for our youth. Funding from this grant will enable us to create a teen section that will include a locking game storage credenza and refreshment unit, and a game table with chairs to seat four. In addition, four table arm chairs will provide areas for them to use laptops and i-Pads, do homework, and enjoy reading some of the library's book selections.

This grant allows for the modification of current main shelving height and ads end panels with slat walls for creative and inviting displays creating a more user friendly shelving area and provides a better view of the architecture in the ceiling of this historic room.

The children's area has been reconfigured to better fit their needs. The grant paid for shelving with casters and will open up the children’s area even more for activities and story time. We can easily move the shelving as needed for desired effect. The grant also paid for a marker board where children's artwork and creations will be displayed.

The grant also paid for new office furniture behind the circulation desk and allows for the redesign of the librarian's office, with new custom built furniture. The grant will also pay for the reupholstering of furniture, and replacement of furniture on the bottom floor.

Finally, the redesign also includes a new comfortable seating area for library patrons.

"It will encourage individuals, families, and groups to sit, read, and share together," Durham said.

We have a very active and dedicated board of directors who are vitally interested in this library’s reorganization and upgrade," Durham said. "Our board president, treasurer and several board members have been involved with all aspects of this grant process."

In addition, the board has sought additional funding to have the main floor of the library painted and to make the handicap entrance and one restroom to comply with the American's For Disabilities Act (ADA).

"We are very excited about the opportunity to create the above described Andrew Carnegie vision and style of our library without losing the historical integrity of it," Durham said. "Once completed, we believe that if Andrew Carnegie walked into the library he would feel right at home. We hope you will as well. An open house for the library will be scheduled later this summer."