Five-year-old Millie and 3-year-old Esther Jo Ballard have been coming to the Bullard Community Library for a few years now, and they love reading, doing craft activities and learning.

On Wednesday afternoon, they came out to see the newly-renovated library with their grandmother, Rebecca Ballard. The sisters spent their time coloring bookmarks and checking out their favorite children’s literature.

“It looks great. It’s always nice to see the books,” Rebecca Ballard said while watching her granddaughters specialize their bookmarks with colored pencils.

Debbie Willbanks, Bullard Community Library director, said the 40-year-old building started eroding due to weather over time.

Through funding from the city and donations, the library received a total renovation on the outside and partial fixes indoors like new wooden flooring.

“We desperately needed to have some work done on the outside,” she said.

The Bullard Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting Wednesday at the library to showcase the new look and improvements.

“Hopefully, this will bring awareness to the library and the services we offer,” Willbanks said.

Willbanks added that patrons noticed the openness of the building and more natural light coming through after the building’s facelift.

“They’re telling us it’s more welcoming now and they feel safe coming here,” she said.

The library not only offers books to check out, but also office services, such as a notary, public computers and scanners.

“It’s kind of like a one-stop shop so to speak,” Willbanks said.

As director, Willbanks said she’s had to get creative due to COVID-19 precautions. The typical story time that used to be in-person at the library moved to a Facebook live reading, and kids can pick up individually wrapped crafting activities and use online coloring books.

Millie and Esther Jo have been waiting to see when they could go back to the library again with other kids and listen to story time readings.

“My favorite part is reading the books,” Millie said. “I like doing the crafts at my house.”

Esther Jo added that she also likes doing the library’s at-home craft activities.

Amber Willingham, of Bullard, came to the library with her 2-year-old daughter Vivian to see what had changed since she was a kid.

Willingham said Vivian loved visiting the library, picking out books and doing some coloring activities.

“Since it reopened, we figure we would get my girls back into it. They have good age-appropriate books for toddlers that are textile and good for development,” she said.

Willbanks said she’s very appreciative of the board of trustees, the city of Bullard, community donors and loyal patrons for making the improvements possible.

Depending on COVID-19 restrictions, Willbanks said she hopes to hold a grand opening celebration for the library in the spring.

The library is located at 211 W Main Street in Bullard. The hours are Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about the library, visit bullardlibrary.org.

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I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.