Donations bring library expansion ever closer

Alpine Public Library Director Don Wetterauer holds a rendering of the facility’s planned expansion. 




Two surprise $100,000 donations recently brought Alpine Public Library more than half way to its $1.2 million expansion goal.

Director Don Wetterauer explained, “Last year we had an anonymous donor who said, ‘I’ll give you $100,000 if you raise $100,000 by the middle of August.’ The idea was that would put us over the halfway point so we could start contacting foundations and lining up money.”

The library had already raised a little over $400,000 since 2017.

In short order, another anonymous donor stepped up with $100,000, pushing the expansion fund over $600,000, and making the library eligible for grants.

Wetterauer said the present facility, built in 2012 at 8,832 square feet, was smaller than the Texas Library Association recommends for a town of Alpine’s size. The expansion will add 3,000 square feet to the facility.

He pitched the project to several private, non-profit foundations, and all were interested, but the library first had to raise half the cost.

“They wanted to make sure we could raise half the money to prove we could get there, and to prove that the community supports the project. Once the community shows interest and willingness to help get it going, then foundations are willing to come in and help us with the rest of it,” said Wetterauer.

His goal is to have money in place and the project started by 2021.

The plan includes enclosing two patios so they become part of the interior space. The now-west patio will accommodate young children, with their books, activities, and programs there. Junior high and high school aged youth will have their own space on the current south patio, with books and activities appropriate for that age group.

Wetterauer pointed out the community room was now used for just about all the library’s activities for all ages, and that has created a problem scheduling everyone who wants to use it. Designated youth spaces will free up the AEP room for adult activities.

“We’re planning more meeting rooms for groups,” said Wetterauer. “And we’ll have a living room-like area to sit and talk or read. We’ll be opening inside space for adults.”

There’s a movement now in the field to make libraries more about community spaces rather than simply a collection of books. Traditionally, 70% was devoted to books, administration, and operation, and 30% to community space. Wetterauer said that’s now flipped, with 70% targeted for community use.

Several fundraising efforts are already in the works, including a March 18 French Night program at the Alpine Civic Center, and dinners hosted by board members in their homes in April. In May an Alpine home school group will perform a play to benefit the library, and in July the library will host mini-golf inside around the stacks.

To donate to the cause, send or take a check to the library, or use PayPal or a credit card on the library website, specifying that the money be used for the expansion project.

“We’re on a roll. Let’s get this going, and let’s get it built!” declared Wetteraur. “This library is a real asset in Alpine.”

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