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Tarkington Community Library looks toward future with help from local community

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TARKINGTON - The Tarkington Community Library, which sits in its beloved cabin on the prairie, has served the local community since 2002.

It has long held a vast selection of books and media for all ages, provided computer and Internet access, as well as many other services to library cardholders.

In addition, it houses a plethora of historical artifacts, collected by the Tarkington Prairie Historical Society.

However, since it’s inception, the library has been plagued with pests, such as termites, who were slowly eating away at the building. Supporters of the library have long been looking for a remedy to these troubles, in an effort to protect and rebuild the local library. In fact, by 2021, approximately $ 37,000 was raised as part of these efforts, primarily by a mission group in Tyler, Texas.

The Rice Richardson Foundation, who has long had a supportive history with the library, committed to matching those funds up to $ 50,000. That’s a commitment that the foundation still honors today, as the library looks toward a new future with the help of the local community and an architect, Thomas Upchurch and his associates.

To date, library staff have continued to raise funds through fundraising and donations. The Rice- Richardson Foundation will continue their promise of a matching donation up to $ 50,000. The project has also received an additional donation of $ 27,000 from another organization. They plan to continue the efforts to fundraise and apply for grants to help meet the ultimate financial goal and to continue their many popular events and programs, such as the summer reading program hosted at the library for local children each year.

“ The library board and building committee have been working hard for a couple of years now to get the ball rolling on building a new library,” said library staff member Laura Walker. “ We’ve been working with an architect and we just received the renderings for the building.”

Upchurch and his team, who work out of Brenham, Texas, have worked diligently to bring the ideas and vision of library staff and supporters to life. The new library building is projected to cost between $ 850,000 to $900,000 and will be on a slab foundation with cypress wood siding and wood on the interior to give a nod to the former building, as well as to the timber industry, which is prevalent in this area.

There will be reading nooks, a quiet area, moveable shelves, and plenty of windows. The new building will be a one story 3,325 square feet facility, which is twice the size of the current building. The children’s area will be close to the circulation desk with low shelves for easy access and visibility. It will have a window seat and an area for story time. The young adult section will have tables for reading and studying.

There will also be a separate area for computers that will allow for both privacy and noise control. The open concept will lend itself to displaying artifacts and memorabilia from the Tarkington Prairie Historical Commission. The front porch of the library will also have the ability to be utilized as a stage for future events.

The Tarkington Community Library is located at 3032 FM 163 in Cleveland. For more information on library services or how you can help by donating or volunteering, call 281-5925136 or email info@tarkingtonlib. org. You can also visit the website at