Johnson City Library Profile Narrative 1937- Present
In 1937, a group of enthusiastic and hopeful volunteers got together to fund the Johnson City Library. The library was first housed in the upstairs room of the Blanco County Courthouse. The beginning stages of the collection contained all generously donated books. Since a collection of 700 books was required for assistance from the Works Progress Administration, a community book drive was initiated to meet that goal. However, the WPA was discontinued before reaching the goal, so 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 on the west side of the square. In November 1979, the Crider Café, adjacent to the existing library, was purchased with grant money from the Moody and Brown Foundations and private individuals’ donations. The newly remodeled library opened in February 1982. With this move, the library’s collection had grown from 700 books to over 13,000. In 1977 the Johnson City Library Corporation was chartered as a 501(c)3.
Computers made their way into the library in 1996 through a grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority. In 1998, with a grant from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, the internet was introduced to the library. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant and the Technology for All allowed for the purchase of 20 computers. This built the foundation of the library as we know it today.
With the availability of Special Purpose Districts from the state, the Blanco County North Library District was voted into existence in 2002. Within that same year, the library started collecting sales tax to support its operating budget. Per the rules, a five-member Board of Trustees was formed with volunteers. Many excellent people have served in these positions, which has enabled the library to grow and prosper. Plans began for a new library facility in 2003. Through grants and loans, the new library became a reality five years later, in 2008. The entire community came out to support and complete the move into the future of the library. A celebration was held in November to thank all those involved in turning the plan into a reality. In December 2018, the mortgage was paid in full thanks to the Johnson City Bank, who paid all the loan interest.
Community members, Bob and Frana Keith, promised $500,000 in 2006 for library programs. This money enabled the library to extend its hours and allowed for the creation of very successful programs. The cornerstone of this gift is Discovery Academy, a STEM after-school enrichment program currently in its fourteenth year. The library’s outstanding adult and children's programs continue to be a vibrant and enriching part of the library experience here at Johnson City Library.
Today, the library checks out a variety of electronic equipment for the community's use. The most recent addition to the library’s collection came in 2020 with the addition of hot spots and service contracts received from the grant by the Tocker Foundation. These tools are a great help to children needing Wi-Fi for their classwork at home due to the changing times brought on by the coronavirus.
The library is open fifty-five hours a week with two full-time employees and one part-time employee. The library has about 2,500 patrons and 18,950 books, audiotapes, DVDs, and e-books, with new additions being added regularly. The library’s Wi-Fi speed is 500 Mbps, and Wi-Fi is available 24/7 inside and outside the library.
The library’s primary goal is to be a community center and resource. The Johnson City Library Board of Trustees and the staff work hard to make sure the library meets all state requirements for entities that receive tax money. Additionally, they ensure that the library has appropriate policies in place to allow the library to run smoothly and that all monies are well allocated.