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DILLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY NEWS
By Norma Herrera
The Dilley Public Library is marking a special milestone this year with its 25th anniversary.
We are proud to have served our community faithfully for the past quarter century with resources that have provided education to our children, literature to our adult readers, technology to all those who may benefit from it, and activities that have furthered a genuine interest in discovery.
We have come a long way since the early days of our establishment in 1996 and 1997, when the Friends of the Dilley Public Library launched the initiative to revive the facility for the community.
At the start, the Friends helped secure a portion of the Dilley Masonic Lodge on FM 117, opposite the high school campus, for a nominal annual rental fee of just $1. Back then, we had no funds for new books, furniture or computers, and we had to begin our work on what was essentially an empty slate. The support we earned from the community, however, gave the library its energy and lifeblood to continue striving to improve and expand the services it offered.
Some of those Friends of the Dilley Public Library are gone from us now, but the impact they made on the lives of countless children and adults in their community has been immeasurable.
With the additional support of the Alamo Area Library System (which no longer exists), we began establishing a public library that could serve its community’s needs.
We started with one computer.
The donations and other contributions from patrons and from Dilley ISD soon began to flow, and the city of Dilley and the school district worked together to help us pay our expenses.
Before we could become a municipal entity, we applied for grants that helped bring us technology, communications connectivity, books, furniture, and even laptops that our patrons could use.
The value of a proactive library was becoming apparent to the community.
In 1998, we expanded our resources greatly by installing 18 computers that included educational programs.
Eventually, all of the old books that we had inherited from a former library and various collections were replaced with new issues. While it is easy to say that ‘the rest is history,’ it is important to note that the life of a library is in its patrons and the interest and energy they bring to our doorstep.
We believe that the most far-reaching impact we have had upon the younger generations in Dilley has been through our progressive programs of Story Time, Summer Reading, and a wide range of activities and resources for students ranging in age from the very youngest to the college-bound. Many of today’s community members grew up with the library as their source for adventures in reading, summertime fun, creative activities, help with homework, communication with the outside world via the internet, access to additional material for their research papers and reports, exams and testing, information on higher education and careers, opportunities in the workforce and the military services, access to counseling, parenting advice, household budgeting and management, licensing, and of course the many volumes of mature reading they turn to for their entertainment, learning and imagination in their adult years.
Among the programs we have helped our patrons gain access to through the library are the Job Training Partnership Act, Camino Real and other mental health resources, recruiting agencies, job interviews, and a wide range of services that have benefited the residents of our small town.
We have operated our Summer Reading Program for 25 years in conjunction with the Texas State Library for our community’s children. The programs have continued having an extraordinary impact on our young patrons for more than a generation. We reached out to the community to expand the children’s minds, not only in language skills but also in imagination and creativity through our resources in reading materials, the electronic catalog, and the many E-books that are available today.
What better way could we serve our community than to give everyone access to a place so full of knowledge?
Today, we maintain more than 13,400 books in our collection, and there are thousands of E-books available for download, as well. We have OverDrive, Project Gutenberg, LibriVoc, SimplyE, Libby and Learning Express for our patrons to use. We also have TexShare databases through the state and the Frio-Nueces Current (the former Dilley Herald) that the community can browse.
The Dilley Public Library has over 3,000 patrons come through its doors yearly and internet use averages a total of 2,000. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to close for the general health and safety of the public, and it has been reassuring to see our numbers recover as the people of Dilley emerge from their respective lockdowns to return to the place where they and their children can find the resources they need.
We challenge people to think of the library as a place where everybody can come to learn, grow and connect with the community.
Now that the library is a municipal facility in the city of Dilley, patrons can be proud to say they have a library that is beautiful and inspiring with a very welcoming environment. The vision of the Dilley Public Library is an educated citizenry with open access to information and the love of reading and life-long learning. Our mission is to promote, coordinate and facilitate communication and resource sharing to provide quality library information services to all residents in the service area. That mission has been achieved through the joint efforts of the city of Dilley, our staff, our lay representatives, community partners and residents.
As we move into our next quarter century as a municipal facility, we have set goals of improving the collection of the library in quality, quantity and accessibility; upgrading and further enhancing the level of expertise in providing quality library services; stimulating local financial and civic support to public libraries; developing library programs to serve the under- and non-served residents of the area; and promoting the sharing of human resource skills as well as information, educational and cultural resources.
The commitment and support of the city of Dilley, city administrator, mayor and city council, have encouraged us to work hard towards maintaining an establishment through which the people of Dilley gain access to the resources that may enrich their lives every day.
For the month of August, we are pleased to report that patron counts were over 270, with 91 internet users, circulation of books at 150, and 42 student visits.
Our welcome to young readers continued in August, when we hosted another visit by the L’il Pups Daycare Center, whose children were accompanied by supervisor Sylvia San Miguel. The youngsters used our computers, listened to stories, played board games, and made structures with Lego blocks. Some of the older children can pick from the STEM kits that the library has available for them to use. They also enjoy educational programs on the monitor at the library, and many of our young visitors use the atrium in the municipal building as a place to enjoy the snacks and drinks we provide.