Donor helps Lindale Library stay open

photo by Lisa Trenary Melissa Melendez, resident of Lindale, TX, leads children in a story during story time at the Lindale Library Friday Jan. 9, 2015.

A donor has stepped forward to help keep the Lindale Library open as its directors establish a long-term sustainability plan.

Library Director Carrie Custer said the loss of a key annual donor several years ago and a decline in individual donations put the library in jeopardy of closing. Without the donation to keep its doors temporarily open, the library would have closed this month.

The library's annual budget, which pays for staff, books and programs, had been cut to $143,000 from $168,000.

The city of Lindale donates $40,000 annually, leaving the remaining $103,000 to be raised through donations and fundraisers.

Rusty Braziel, an energy consultant and owner of RBN Energy, donated enough money to keep the library's doors open as its board of directors create a long-term plan, she said.

"Fortunately, he's helped bridge the gap for us in the short-term," Ms. Custer said. "The board has made changes and is creating a plan with a renewed focus on fundraising."

Braziel said he saw an article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph about the library's financial difficulty.

He said a run of bad luck, including maintenance issues, and the loss of long-time supporters put the library in the bad position and that he was happy to help.

"We just got them over a hump," he said. "But we'll be there for the long run. We're committed to help however we can to keep the library open to the community."

Braziel also joined the governing board and is working with its members to help increase the library's revenue stream and is hopeful to increase its activity in the community through events and additional programs. He said his grandmother, Lilly Russell, a long-time educator in the Lindale school district and the first woman on the district's school board, instilled the importance of education and community involvement.

The library was established by Lindale residents in 1992. The library is one of 11 in Texas named by the magazine Library Journal as a Star Library, which identifies high performing libraries with regard to per-capita visits, program attendance and computer use.

Ms. Custer said the library is a gathering point for a wide range of community residents, including people searching for jobs via the Internet, entrepreneurs and young children who are learning to read.

Staff Writer Faith Harper contributed to this report.

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