Dripping Springs Community Library plans for facility expansion

The task of stacking books on crowded shelves is a daily reminder of the limited space the Dripping Springs Community Library faces.

On Dec. 5, Dripping Springs Community Library District (DSCLD) Board of Trustees reviewed and discussed Dripping Springs’ Town Center concept plan, a project that, if approved by the Board of Trustees, would be another step toward realizing its vision for a larger facility. 

The Town Center concept plan visualizes a new library in proximity to Dripping Springs Independent School District (DSISD) administration office, Dripping Springs City Hall and a Hays County Office amongst other entities on land currently occupied mainly by DSISD. 

As part of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ), the project’s infrastructure would be funded by portions of the property taxes generated in the designated area over a period of time, according to TIRZ documents.

The Town Center concept plan provides an opportunity the DSCLD board seeks. That vision is to have a new library built in a central location to reflect the important role the library serves in the community, said Missy Atwood, DSCLD Board of Trustees President,  in a Dec. 8 phone interview. 

The new location would nearly quadruple the library’s current size of approximately 9,300 square feet, according to TIRZ documents.

When the library first occupied its current space in 1998, it had 900 active card holders; now that number is over 10,000 and is growing, Atwood said in an emailed response. 

The board is expected to vote on the conceptual plans in its Dec. 20 meeting, Atwood said. The board has a Memorandum of Agreement with the other parties to the project such as the city and DSISD which commits the board to jointly plan the Town Center, according to TIRZ documents.  If the plans progress positively, Atwood said, she hopes to see a new library built by 2021.

In the meantime, the library staff does its best to manage the ever growing constraints in space.

As new titles arrive, volunteers in many instances have to call on Library Director Marcia Atilano to make difficult decision.

“Weeding out” is what Atilano calls the process of removing books that meet certain criteria, such as not having been checked out in the last two years.

Atilano said she does not like having to pull books for removal, but in order to make room for new titles it has to be done.

The process, done about once a month, is challenging at times, she said, because a book’s subject may be valuable. 

Besides providing more space for shelving, a new facility will increase the library’s capacity to offer technology services.

In 2016 alone, the library received 22,000 visits for the use of computer/internet access, she said.

With a larger facility, Atwood said the library can meet the needs of the growing community and  continue to provide the community services not available anywhere else.

“Often there is a waiting list to access the free computers available at the library,” Atwood said. 

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