Who we are and where we come from.
The places we're trying to protect.
The story of where we come from.
- Laura Bush (Former First Lady & Librarian)
The Llano Women’s Culture Club established Llano’s first public library, the Clopton Library, in Mrs. C.R. Porter’s home in 1904 with 109 books. As the modest library’s book collection grew, it moved locations multiple times, and members of the Culture Club served as volunteer librarians for many decades. Llano County Commissioners’ Court authorized the Women’s Culture Club to build on the courthouse square in 1939, and the Llano branch moved to its current location in 1991. (Oatman, Jr., W. and Franklin, S. O. (1970). Llano gem of the hill country: Revisited. Anchor Publishing Company.)
The Kingsland Library is seen in this drawing from 1994. The addition was completed and a ribbon cutting was held in 1999. As you can see from the program, First Lady Laura Bush, herself a librarian, was a featured speaker at the event.
In Buchanan Dam in 1978, three women volunteered to run The Greenwood Exchange, which was a library in the storage room of a water company building. The library proved popular, as the annual circulation grew from 4,054 books in 1978 to 10,764 books in 2003. The building was sold in 1994 and the library needed a new home. A Mr. and Mrs. Deal donated property with a structure on it, Llano County pitched in funds to supplement collected local donations, and the existing building was renovated. The Lakeshore Library was established and occupied the Deal property in 1995. The Friends of the Lakeshore Library was formed in 1997. Due to terrific growth and community support, the Lakeshore Library was bursting at the seams in 1999, and an addition to the structure was not feasible. A successful four-year fundraising campaign resulting in about $275,000 raised funded the construction of a new building, which stands today. The Lakeshore Branch is pristine, with amenities such as a free note card mailing center and free paperback section. Its respective Friends organization remains a very active, supportive group who advocates for their library to Llano County
We are library people.
We are Americans.
And our public library is an essential American cultural institution.
The founding fathers understood that for American democracy to succeed, American citizens would need to be educated and informed. The public schools of the young United States created a nation of readers, and all across the country, those readers read. They read, and they lent books to each other, and they shared their ideas. And in communities across the nation, someone made space for a shelf to hold the books they were sharing. When the shelf overflowed, they found one bookcase, and then another. In many places they begged or borrowed or fought for a public space to house the bookcases so more people could read with them. They raised money to buy a building and to pay a librarian.
Eventually, by tiny incremental steps or dedicated capital campaigns, readers built libraries--hundreds and thousands of libraries in communities all over the country.
The creation of public libraries is the heritage of America itself. The 1,689 American libraries funded by Mr. Andrew Carnegie represent an exquisite marriage between the exceptionalism of American capitalism and the altruistic establishment and support of a societal good. Americans have built libraries for hundreds of years. In Llano county, we built the beginnings of our library system 118 years ago.
The Llano County Library System Foundation is proud that each of our library branches began out of the collective desire and sacrifice of local citizens to exchange books and ideas. Each branch came to be because of the grassroots efforts of book lovers. Let’s honor our past by safeguarding our libraries’ future.
The Llano County Library System’s very existence is under threat. Llano County’s sitting county judge wrote in an email to a member of the library advisory board that “The board also needs to recognize that the county is not mandated by law to provide a public library.”
The Foundation was started in 2012 by several library patrons, including Ms. Ruth Fowler, Ms. Pam Fowler, Mr. John Fowler, Ms. Tommi Ruth “TR” Brown, Ms. Jeanne Puryear, Ms. Billie Laning, and Ms. June Shanks. Ruth, TR, Pam, Billie and Jeanne were all friends and members of the Llano County Reading Group, which remains active to this day. The purpose of the Foundation was to raise funds in response to County budget cuts. The Foundation began with a nest egg donated by the founders and solicited initial donations via a letter-writing campaign. The first fundraiser of the fledgling organization was a street dance on June 21, 2013, though unfortunately had poor attendance due to rain and a concurrent local concert. In that article, Pam Fowler publicized the event and spoke out against the reduction of hours and funds. The Foundation continued to shed light on the City’s and the County’s budgetary decisions that negatively affected the library system via facebook posts. A first major fundraiser, A Beatrix Potter Garden Party, was held on April 10, 2022 at Badu Park in Llano. The President of the Foundation made public comment at a county commissioners’ court meeting and sent a letter to the editor in the July 28, 2022 Llano News in protest of the Kingsland and Llano branches closing on Saturdays. The Foundation made public comment at the county budget hearing on August 22, 2022 in opposition to budget cuts to the library system.
- Henry Ward Beecher