2003 Barbara Kingsolver Award Winner
Friends of the Colleyville (TX) Public Library
Friends of the Colleyville Public Library, a band of dedicated library volunteers from a small Texas community, is the winner of the 2003 Friends of Libraries U.S.A./HarperCollins Publishers Award. The award, honoring author Barbara Kingsolver, includes a $10,000 prize for the purchase of books. The award presentation was made at FOLUSA’s Author Brunch during the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in San Diego.
Friends of the Colleyville Public Library was incorporated in July 1991 by four people gathered around a kitchen table, a group whose purpose was to advocate for the establishment of a library and to support it through fund-raising and volunteer work. It wasn’t until 12 years later -- on November 24, 2003 -- that the first public library in the city of Colleyville, northeast of Fort Worth, finally opened. Thanks to a dedicated few who refused to give up in the face of political undermining, Colleyville has erased the distinction of being the largest city in the state of Texas without a public library.
The Friends of Colleyville started their work in 1991 with $500 in seed money made at a used book sale at a citywide barbecue. Their triumphant opening day in 2003 was made possible after friends, families and businesses added their personal donations. Additional revenue was generated by a library fund that was created when the Friends volunteers convinced the town council to add a tiny, dedicated service charge to the monthly city water bill. That fund grew to more than $400,000 by opening day.
Increased community interest also led to a successful bond proposal for construction of a library and a separate community center in Colleyville. All was not clear sailing, however. After the bond passage, the same city council that had helped start the fund-raising ball rolling decided to focus attention on the community center over the library. Several of the elected officials voted to create a virtual library instead, one with no books, to keep costs down.
The Colleyville Friends persevered in promoting a traditional library building shelved with books and computers.
The same group that envisioned Colleyville’s first library was on hand when the new two-story building opened in November. More than 1,500 people walked through the library doors on opening day, greeted by Friends members who helped staff members process library card applications, shelve books and answer questions.
Friends of Colleyville Public Library is not only interested in advocacy and lobbying. Annual fund-raisers include a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” competition and gala, authors’ luncheons, book sales and a drive to sell engraved paving markers in front of the new library building.
Volunteer Chairwoman Ellen Kelly of the Colleyville Friends put it succinctly when she said, “I gave up for three or four years. I didn't think it was going to happen. The opening was especially sweet for those of us who had worked on it forever!”
Written by Martin Covert, FOLUSA Board Member and judge of the 2003 FOLUSA/HarperCollins Award in honor of Barbara Kingsolver.
In the photo: Virginia Stanley of HarperCollins (left) presents a plaque to Carol Wollin, President of Friends of the Colleyville (TX) Public Library (center) and Ellen Kelly, Volunteer Chairman of the Friends of Colleyville (TX) Public Library (right), the winner of the 2003 FOLUSA/HarperCollins Award in honor of Barbara Kingsolver.