Johnson City Library

Library History

Johnson City Library Profile Narrative 1937- Present

 In 1937, a group of volunteers got together to fund the Johnson City Library.  First housed in an upstairs room in the Blanco County Courthouse, the collection contained all donated books.  Help was requested from the Works Progress Administration who required seven hundred books to meet minimum standards for their assistance.  The library met the required number by asking the community for donations.  In 1940 when the WPA was discontinued, the newly formed Johnson City Woman’s Civic Club voted to sponsor the library. 

In 1971 the library moved from the courthouse to a building formally occupied by the City of Johnson City on the west side of the square.  On June 22, 1977, the Johnson City Library Corporation was chartered as a non-profit organization with its first annual meeting June 27, 1978.

That same year it became apparent more space was needed for the now eight thousand book collection.  In November 1979 the Crider Café adjacent to the existing library was purchased with grant money from the Moody and Brown Foundations and donations from private individuals. The newly remodeled library opened in February 1982.  With this move and a small portable building out back, the library’s collection had grown from the original 700 books to over 13,000.

Computers first came to the library in 1996 through a grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA).  In 1998 internet for patrons and public computers were introduced to the library with a grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF).  Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Technology for All (a federal agency) have allowed the library to now have twenty computers.  Internet and computer usage continues to grow for both children and adults.  This year the library added three e-readers that can be checked out, and six IPads for use in the library.

With the availability of Special Purpose Districts from the state, the Blanco County North Library District was voted into existence in 2002 and the library starting collecting sales tax to support its operating budget.   Formation of a library district calls for the library to be administered by a five member Board of Trustees.  This is a volunteer position and many excellent people have served at least two year terms.  Their service has enabled the library to grow and prosper.

Plans began for a new library facility in 2003 when property was purchased from the Johnson City Independent School District.  Through many changes, grants, and loans, the new library became a reality in 2008.  The entire community came out to help carry books and shelves, and set-up everything up.  A grand celebration was held in November to thank those who helped.  The library building is not yet debt free, but the Johnson City National Bank has assisted by paying all interest on the loan.

Community members, Bob and Frana Keith, promised $500,000 in 2006 for library programs.  The money has allowed the library to be open longer hours and created very successful outreach programs. These Programs consist of on-going monthly programs such as: JC Reads (book club), a writers group, Civil War Roundtable, a fiber arts group.  A seven year successful program is the library’s science and math after-school enrichment program that includes a two week summer camp.  In 2013 the library added monthly movies and many other special programs.  One of these was “One Community One Book,” a month of programming around Charles Dickens’ Bleak House that ended with a costumed Victorian feast that was funded by a grant from the Texas State Library.  Library Programming is very important in a small rural community where very little other social and educational enrichment exists.  In 2013 our programs attendance grew by 50% from the previous year.

Currently the library has 2,668 patrons and a collection of 17,419 books, audio tapes, DVDs, e-books, and electronics including e-readers and iPads.  The library has two employees- a full time circulation manager and three quarter time library director.  Programs employs a ten hour a week director.  There are twenty computers with internet for patrons and Wi-Fi connection that is available 24/7 in and outside the library. Ten of the computers came from a federal grant in 2012. 

The Johnson City Library Board of Trustees and library staff have worked hard to make sure the library meets the educational and social needs of its patrons, meets all requirements from the state for entities that receive tax money, has appropriate policies in place to assure the library runs smoothly, and that monies are well allocated for operations and paying off the building loan.  In 2013 the Board began work on a new the five year plan for 2014-2018.   The plan adopts goals and objectives that strives to provide, on equal terms free library services to all individuals and groups in Blanco County to meet their social and educational needs.