HAWKINS, Texas (KLTV) - A small-town East Texas library has received a major facelift, through grant money as well as the efforts of volunteers.
Competing with the digital and social media information age, small-town libraries can struggle to be attractive to patrons. But through innovation and community volunteering, the Hawkins library has become a model of what you can do, if you try.
Even some board members of the Allen Memorial library in Hawkins admitted the facility was at one time drab and uninviting.
"Some of the walls were pretty dirty and dingy. You begin to wonder are we going to be able to darken the doors with enough patrons to keep this place open," said board member John Flynn.
They had tried for improvement grant money.
"We tried other grants that we did not succeed at," said board president Sarah Baker.
Then through the Tocker grant, which specifically covers fixtures and furniture, an idea began.
"I wanted to pull it into the future, make it relevant, in order for this library to continue. Make it warm, inviting. We also got the benefit of people coming together in the community to pull this together," said head librarian Norma Hallmark.
Volunteers pitched in to make the building fit the furniture. Painting bright colors, a kid’s play section, even a coffee bar.
"Volunteerism. We all worked together to get this done," Baker says.
The Master Gardeners club spruced up the outside.
“We thought this would be a good project for master gardeners, to make that look a little more inviting,” said Ann Reynolds of the Wood County Master Gardeners.
And patrons responded.
"I think the greatest block in any city is the block where the city library is. Cognition, then ignition, for imagination and innovation," said library visitor Olin Fregia.
Local artists also pitched in, donating paintings to spruce up the walls of the library.