Inspiring thousands of hours of reading, the Alvarado Public Library continues to provide a variety of educational and entertainment opportunities.

Considered a community treasure, the library has had to overcome a few hurdles through the years to get to where it is today.

“We started out in 1989 in a building that was later condemned,” library director Leanna Cowan said. “We moved to City Hall for awhile and then to the intermediate band hall, then back to City Hall, and then occupied a space in the senior citizens center.”

Through a grant and donations from organizations and individuals, the new Alvarado Public Library became a reality in 2005.

“One individual donor gave $60,000 which was used for sidewalks, curbs and parking lot,” Cowan said, noting the library has been a recipient of other gifts, as well.

“We received a large donation of new books, CDs and DVDs from Borders Books in Burleson,” said Cowan, who began as a volunteer in 1989 and was hired as an employee in 1997.

“We have over 6,000 volumes that are yet to be processed,” Cowan said, noting the building has already outgrown its facilities. “And when we had our Art Guild displays and photos, the meeting room wasn’t adequate and much of the display overflowed out into the library.” Cowan points out state regulations suggest a minimum of 1.5 square feet of space for every resident.

“That means that for a town the size of Alvarado, we should have no less than 10,000 square feet, including a much larger meeting room,” Cowan said.

Cowan said she is proud of the summer reading program sponsored by the library each year.

“We measure the amount of reading of each person in minutes and the top person in the 9- to 10-year-old bracket read for 5,095 minutes; the top reader in the 5- to 8-year-old category read 3,390 minutes,” Cowan said. “As the youth get older, the hours tend to decrease because they have so much other things to occupy their time, but the top teen in town, Kacy Alcox, read 26 books.

“Our teens are reading young adult to adult level books,” Cowan said. “We give awards to people who excel in our summer reading program.”

The library offers an array of activities, including a springtime art show; Johnson County Master Gardeners, which meet once a month and offer a free lecture; an annual poetry contest; and a new winter reading program that was recently implemented.

“Also, the Regional Library Program provides additional programs for us, like ‘Jungle Jim,’ who presents programs about insects and wild life, sometimes bringing some critters with him,” Cowan said.

Other programs include story time on Wednesday; “Drawing Sensations,” where Chris Davis critiques artwork; teen afternoon at the movies; the Divas Girl’s Club on Friday; Saturday morning at the movies; gardening lectures; and a bilingual story time.

Cowan said she takes pride in the number of people from Burleson and other surrounding communities who patronize the Alvarado Public Library.

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