Libraries have always been an important part of my life. As a child they were a place to go to find new dreams, to learn to accomplish new things and to dare to be some one else. 18 years ago my husband and I moved to Austin with our baby. We didn't know a soul, that is until I found my new library- the Westbank Community Library-my new friend. Clearly I always had a strong relationship with libraries but this place was special. From the moment I walked in the door I was made to feel at home. The library and everyone in it were so welcoming that I found my self visiting numerous times a week. After a few years of this I was on a first name basis with most of the staff.
It wasn't long thereafter that I was asked to join the Friends. From there I took on Board positions and became even more actively involved in different aspects of the library. How can you not get involved when your family asks for your help. The time I spent at the library increased as did my longing to do even more to help this library that just kept getting better and bigger. I was asked to step up to the plate again and run for a Trustee position. For numerous years now I have had the honor of being a Trustee and helping make decisions regarding the overall running of the library. The time I spend doing things for our library is something that I think is a hugely worthwhile endeavor that I will never take lightly. As long as I live in Austin, I will continue to do what ever I can to help our library continue to be the wonderful place that it is.
Because of our irrepressible Library Director, our outstanding staff and community volunteers, and our dedicated and congenial Trustees, I continue to enjoy the challenge of helping to keep us one of the best community libraries in the country. After almost 5 years of planning, I am excited to see the construction of a full-service branch library becoming a reality. The branch will truly be a community endeavor, as so many of our patrons have donated time and money toward its completion. Thanks to all of you who have given so unselfishly to make the worthy project possible!
The Westbank Library is remarkable in many ways. It attracts more users than any comparable library in the country. The rate of growth in the libraryâ€™s book circulation and other services outpaces that of all other libraries in its class. It has a rock-bottom expense ratio, while maintaining an enviable level of performance. And the library has a breadth of community support that is unmatched anywhere.
My wife, Jann, and I have been very active volunteers with the library for over 10 years. My first library volunteer job involved mowing the grounds. We were both very involved with the legislative effort to create library districts and the subsequent election that created our library district. Most recently I helped ensure that the new branch could be built at the corner of Cuernavaca and Bee Cave Road. We are grateful for the generosity and selflessness on the part of the many supporters who have made the library First in Class. I am honored to have served as a Trustee since 2000 because we are very aware that the library is a community in the best sense of the word.
One of the first things I did when I moved to Austin in 1997 was sign up as a weekly volunteer at the Library. I continued to volunteer through 2007 and only stopped due to a full time employment commitment. I met dozens of new people, some of whom became my best friends. I watched and helped as the Library tripled its size and increased the number of items it checked out to more than half a million items. Believe me we felt the growth at the front desk!
During this time, I continued working as a CPA, part time, to help small companies and individuals manage their taxes and accounting. Prior to that, I had worked for Ernst & Young and St. Lukeâ€™s Lutheran Hospital in San Antonio. When Beth discovered my past experience, she encouraged me to run for the Library Board. I was elected four years ago and have served as the Board Treasurer ever since. I am particularly proud of the Library's conservative use of funds while providing first-class service. Did you know our Library runs at about half the cost of other comparable libraries? It's this commitment to financial responsibility that has made the dream of a branch library possible.
When I look back over the past year, it is hard for me to believe that it has been almost ten years that I have been involved with the Westbank Library District. I started out in the original building as a circulation volunteer. Since then I have worn lots of different hats. Although volunteering behind the circ desk has been one of my favorite jobs, there are a few others that have been equally as challenging.
I served as President of the Friends Board for two years and during that time; the friends were able to add some very special beauty to the library; the Mark Twain bronze out front being my favorite. Some of you may remember the bazaar that was held in November each year, I chaired that "crafty" effort for a few years.
I then was elected as a Trustee and found that to be a very interesting job, especially when I was named the chair of the fundraising committee for the Branch! I am always amazed at the generosity of our community, however we still have a way to go before our branch is fully funded. Through my love of libraries, I have also served on the board for the Central Texas Library System for the past few years. I have learned a lot through all of these experiences. The most important thing is that libraries are an important part of any community, and can be even better if the community gives their time to help them grow. The Westbank Community Library District is a prime example of how a community can grow a library! The people that I have met and worked with over the years are a special and dedicated group. I feel very lucky to have been involved. Many thanks to you all for all you do!
My relationship with the Library began in 1989, when I helped moved books and equipment from the second story of a bank building to our new 5,000 square foot location on Westbank Drive. As a member of the Board of Directors, I helped lead our transformation into a Library District in 1998.
As president of the Board of Trustees of the District for 12 years from 1998 to 2010, I guided our two-story expansion in 2000 and witnessed the unprecedented growth in the Library's collection and usage, with a minimal increase in staff and expenditures.