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Terlingua Community Comes Together to Create New Library and Community Space

2023

In the enchanting town of Terlingua, a thrilling project is underway to bring a new library and community space to life. This ambitious endeavor is made possible through the collaborative efforts of Brewster County, Terlingua CSD, and the Big Bend Citizens Alliance (BBCA). Recently, the BBCA concluded an extensive survey project, gathering valuable community input while also seeking financial support from those who cherish this unique area.

Until last year, the Terlingua library found its home on the Terlingua CSD campus, serving not only district students and parents but also welcoming library users from the wider community. Unfortunately, concerns about school security prompted the district to permanently close its doors to the public.

While community members could still request materials over the phone and pick them up at the front desk, this new arrangement deterred many regular patrons from utilizing the library. Determined to find a solution, BBCA President Joselyn Fenstermacher and Terlingua CSD Superintendent Reagan Reed approached the Brewster County Commissioners Court for assistance.

Responding to the call, the commissioners amended the county's library contract and dedicated a portion of their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the cause. The BBCA was then entrusted with raising the remaining funds and utilizing community input to bring this inspiring project to fruition.

To gather valuable insights, the organization embarked on an extensive survey project spanning the vast and remote region from Lajitas to Big Bend National Park. Surveys were distributed at key community locations such as the Terlingua Post Office and the Terlingua Ranch Lodge, ensuring widespread participation.

One of the driving forces behind the survey project, BBCA member Barbara Hines, revealed that approximately 70% of the responses came from full-time locals. Their requests included a wide range of services such as adult education classes, tutoring programs, and a food pantry, highlighting the community's diverse needs.

Among the envisioned amenities of the new library, Hines emphasized the importance of a private space for Zoom calls. While internet connectivity is available, connection speeds in the area can be slower compared to urban centers. Providing a reliable connection and a peaceful environment for telemedicine and court-related matters could unlock limitless possibilities.

The future library will be situated on BBCA-owned land adjacent to the school, inspiring members to envision a space that fosters community engagement. Ideas such as a community garden and a public park have gained popularity during brainstorming sessions.

Hines believes that this project will transform the area by not only providing a gathering place but also offering a haven for contemplation. Libraries, she asserts, offer an avenue for individuals to meet others without spending money and provide a tranquil space for introspection.

As an avid book lover, Hines recognizes the profound value of libraries in exposing people to new perspectives and ideas. She stresses the importance of having access to a diverse range of literature and views libraries as invaluable repositories of knowledge.

The next crucial step for the organization is to secure private donors who can help transform their dreams into reality. Hines recognizes the significance of this undertaking, stating, "We don't have a lot here in South County. I think having a library down here will be a great asset to the community."

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