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Foundation grant reinvigorates library

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Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 4:44 pm

A $25,000 grant from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation is giving the Bandera County Library, which turned 85 this year, a completely new feel, its director, Michael Garr, said.

The grant, which the foundation based in Houston approved in April, has addressed several, critical infrastructure needs at the library, Garr said. 

That includes $8,950 for heat pumps to replace two heaters, $7,800 for LED lighting that has brightened up every area of the library, $3,588 for computer networking upgrades that are helping staff keep track of library resources and $4,000 for up to six, high-speed computers for the public to use.

The balance of the grant - $662 – is for miscellaneous expenses, included any unexpected cost overruns.

“We feel very grateful to have obtained a sizable grant from the Alkek foundation to meet these immediate needs,” said Garr.

He said the library seems bigger now that better and more complete lighting has been installed.

John Pearce, vice president of the county library board, said the money will upgrade library operations, help it run more efficiently and maintain what the board hopes are welcoming surroundings at the facility

“The board certainly appreciates the support provided by the Alkek foundation,” said Pearce. “Overall, we feel like we’ll continue to provide quality service to the people of Bandera and do it in a comfortable environment.”

Last winter, the library had to use space heaters to keep patrons comfortable after heaters in the children’s area of the library and in the downstairs conference center went out.

The grant will replace those furnaces, two of the four that supply heat throughout the library, Garr said. Energy efficient air-conditioning and heat pump units have been installed to make sure the library is well heated.

Lighting has needed to be improved for awhile as old fluorescent lighting fixtures have gone out or lost some of their brightness.  Garr said the new lighting has created “a cleaner, fresher” look across all areas of the facility and will help the library operate more efficiently.

The computer networking improvements has allowed the library to install a wireless printer so patrons can make prints from their smart phones and tablets.  It also helped staff replace two computers that were used to check out books and catalogue resources.

The new computers the library has acquired have Windows 10 operating system that will allow patrons to take advantage of faster processing speeds now available at the library since it is part of Bandera Electric Cooperative’s Fiber network.

That network provides the library with up to 1GB (gigabyte) of speed for surfing and downloads, officials said.

The new computers have been purchased and are scheduled to be installed in middle of this month, Garr said.

“We are excited,” he said. “This is really good news to the library.”

The director said the library had routinely received smaller grants from the Alkek foundation for books and other resources, so he was uncertain what to expect when he approached the foundation with a request for larger, capital improvements.

The library received funding from the foundation for everything it had requested, said Garr.

“They were most gracious to come forward and help out,” he said.

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