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East Parker County Library marks 35 years


As we celebrate National Library Week at East Parker County Library, it is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the history of the East Parker County Library. This week marks 35 years since East Parker County Library opened its doors.

In June of 1988, a group of concerned residents discussed the possibility of establishing a public library. Karen Brown, Carrie Jo Kelly, Esther and Dan Rosenthall, Peggy and Marvin Herring, and Jean Koldin appeared before the Aledo City Council to discuss the many advantages of a public library.  The aldermen voted to support the endeavor, and in April of 1989, National Library Week, the East Parker County Library opened its doors to the public as one of a very small group of non-profit libraries in the state.

For the first five years of its existence, the library was run by volunteers, and then in 1994 Anita Bond was hired as the librarian. Bond, who passed away on March 12, continued to serve the library in some capacity until 2017. Her years of dedication helped to establish a strong foundation for EPCL.

In addition to Bond, there have been a number of loyal supporters, including staff, volunteers, and board members. These library supporters ensured the library doors stayed open during more challenging times, whether it was due to relocating the library or budget shortfalls. EPCL is indebted to people like former Board President Richard Henderson, Esq., who, along with his president duties, happened to hear about the Hattie Mae Leslie Foundation, and arranged a grant that paid off the remaining mortgage in our current space; people like Jan Orr-Harter, who hosted our fundraising Garden Party for many years at her own historic home and served as the fundraising chair in some of our leanest years.

The library is also indebted to people like Diane Brown, who served on the board and also added her artistic and creative talents to market many library programs and events;  people like Julie Howell, who began volunteering at the library in 2004 and has now become our longest employee; and people like Sue Ellen Shaw, the director who created and elevated our Friday story time to an event that more and more families looked forward to every week and expanded our Summer Reading Program.

The library also has several long-time volunteers that come every week to help out with various tasks, including SueAnne and Tom McBroom and Pamela Miller.  Almost every director has spent their own money, time, and sometimes their spouses’ talents to add value to the library, in building furniture, installing shelves and TV’s, gardening, painting…the list could go on: people like Bobbie Crosslin, who used her accounting expertise and hours of personal time to straighten out and streamline financial issues and people like Randy Keck, who served on our advisory board, and has used his platform at The Community News to promote and support the library for many years.

A worker dis-assembled sections of shelving in 2016 when the library received new shelves that expanded some capacity after ordering them almost a year before.
A worker dis-assembled sections of shelving in 2016 when the library received new shelves that expanded some capacity after ordering them almost a …

In the past 35 years, the EPCL has lacked financial stability, but it has never lacked heart. This library would not be open today if not for the talents and determination of so many people who served on the board, were employed there, or just volunteered their time to ensure that our community had this important resource. The above is just a very small list.

In addition to Julie, we would also like to recognize the current employees Amy Cobble, Landine Dominick, Tracy Lambert Jack, Marty Hungate, and new Director Beck Gorman for their dedication to the library.

The first library building was the historic two-story stone building in downtown Aledo. That rented space was sold in 1997, so in October of that year the library moved into the smaller space next door (currently Two Sisters, next to the Aledo Diner). The 800-square-foot storefront was home to the library until the 1999 purchase of its current location, which was the old Aledo Post Office. The library renovated the space and opened its doors to the public in January 2001.

The East Parker County Library has come a long way since 2001. We have expanded services by embracing technology, joining a county consortium, earning state accreditation and creating more and more programs to serve our community. We were able to begin creating a makerspace with a generous gift from the family of Karen Villarreal and have expanded those resources with additional grants. As we look forward to the possibility of becoming a department within the City of Aledo, we are honored to give homage to all of those who worked so hard to keep the library open and vibrant.


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