By Ernie Williamson
In this era of distrust in government, it is refreshing to write about a tax expenditure that appears to be paying dividends.
For years, the citizens on the west side of Pearland had to drive across town in heavy traffic or visit a nearby library in a strip mall. That library lacked space and resources.
West side residents lobbied for a new library for years.
Finally, with funding from the Shadow Creek Ranch Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and the cooperation of city and county government, a new 39,000 square-foot library was built to replace the strip mall library.
Statistics show the new $21.89 million West Pearland Library, which opened in April, is making an impact.
From April through October of this year, the new library added 6,531 new members. During the same period the previous year, the library in the strip mall only added 1,428.
This year the new library has had 9,002 people attend its 117 programs. The programs range from Story Time for kids to a book club for adults. Last year the old library had 2,894 people attend 106 programs.
The new library had 7,374 people use its computers compared to only 2,926 computer users at the old library.
Finally, 140,112 people have walked through the new library’s doors as compared to 47,186 at the old library last year.
With the tremendous increase in traffic at the new library, it is not hard to imagine that there are:
• Youngsters who have stumbled upon that one book that has hooked them on reading for the rest of their lives.
• Teenagers who have discovered the joy of reading and put down their video games and social media outlets for a while.
• Students who have improved their grades because they reserved a group study room.
• Voters who have found help in determining whether a campaign ad was information or disinformation.
• Adults who have found help preparing for the citizenship test or a job interview.
• Retirees who have taken advantage of the beginning genealogy class.
The early success for the new library can be attributed to library planners reaching out to the diverse community.
As branch librarian Jessica Williams says, the new library “does a lot of different things for a lot of different people.”
The two-story library includes an outdoor amphitheater, a designated Story Time room, a 100-seat teaching theater and multiple conference, meeting and study rooms.
The library offers more than just books.
If, for example, you need a piece of equipment for work around the house, you may be able to borrow it from the library. With just your library card, you can borrow, among other things, a power washer or carpet cleaning equipment.
The library’s website boasts that cardholders have saved more than $330,000 by borrowing from the library rather than renting or buying.
Coming soon will be space dedicated to audio/visual pursuits, including video editing.
The West Pearland Library and the other 11 libraries in the Brazoria County Library System are offering cardholders access to a free on-line video-based learning platform for improving work skills and developing personal interests.
The platform, Gale Presents: Udemy, can be found by cardholders on the BCLS webpage under the research room section. County residents can also apply for a free library card on the BCLS website.
Williams is gratified at the number of people getting library cards who have never frequented a library or had let their cards lapse.
Let’s hope the growth continues. Our county benefits.
(Contact Ernie at email@example.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)