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2015-02-19

Two nonprofits, one library

By John Hegemier Director, Bandera Public Library

On the first Saturday of every month the Friends of the Bandera County Library have a book sale. On March 14 the Bandera Public Library Corporation will be holding its annual fundraiser, The Wild Hog Explosion. Understandably there is some confusion in the community about the purpose of these two 501(C)(3)s. A question often asked of me is, "I'd like to make a donation to the library, should I make it to the Friends of the Bandera County Library or should I make it to Bandera Public Library Corporation?"
Well it's a good question and to answer it, please allow me to take the reader back to 1932. It's the height of the depression.
A judicious person would understandably think that this moment would be an exceptionally bad time to begin work on a community project like a public library, but a group of 30 Banderans thought differently.
They decided their community needed a public library and they were going to work to make it happened. At that first meeting they formed the Bandera Library Association. $11 was raised and within a couple of years the county had its first public library.
Eventually - 1961 - to be exact, The American Library Association outlined some standardizing principles that library support groups would be encouraged follow. The Bandera Library Association adopted these guiding principles, changed their name, and became what we now know as The Friends of the Bandera County Library.
The Friends of the Bandera County Library have continued to support the library since then. Their main goal is to fund the purchase of books and other circulating materials for the patrons of the library. Occasionally, the Friends will identify and fund project for the library, i.e., the back deck. Other times the Friends will provide the money necessary to make much needed repairs to the building.
Now let's go back to the Bandera Public Library Corporation.
Before 2002 the library was part of the government of Bandera County. The employees who worked at the library were county employees. In 2002 County Commissioners decided to end the county's direct management of the library and instead fund the library through a block grant. This block grant would only be made to a properly formed nonprofit organization.
The Friends of the Bandera County Library did not want to assume this task, thus a new 501(C)(3) was created, aka The Bandera Public Library Corporation. The Bandera Public Library Corporation ensures that the county block grant is spent efficiently. The corporation also works to locate other funding sources.
Currently there are 10 directors on the board. Their job is to oversee the day to day operations of the library. This includes setting the hours, managing the employees, making sure the bills are paid, and the proper forms are filed with the authorities. The commissioners have stipulated that county block grant funds cannot be used to purchase books. Fortunately, we have our hardworking Friends who continue to make sure the library is well stocked with interesting books, audiobooks, and periodicals.