San Marcos library recognized by state for service to community

todayApril 14, 2023 42

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By Joseph Castro

KTSW News Contributor

San Marcos—The San Marcos Public Library (SMPL) recently won a 2022 Achievement of Library Excellence Award, marking the library as one of the best in Texas. 

 The award was given to 73 out of 542 libraries across the state and is allotted by Texas Municipal Library Directors Association, an affiliate of the Texas Municipal League. 

The honor comes after San Marcos residents voted for a $14.5 million library expansion back in 2017. Diane Insley, the SMPL library director, said almost 80% of the community voted to raise their own taxes in order to provide an expanded library. 

“Get 80% of the people to agree on anything seems really difficult, right?,” said Insley. “We had said this, ‘The library we’re building today will cost this much money and it will hold us to a population of about 70,000.’ And now we’re at 70,000. So, we spent that money well and the taxpayers trusted us to spend this new money well.” 

To receive the award a library must be public and show that they “exhibit excellence” in a 10-service-areas list found on the TMLDA website. Some include services to underserved populations and cultural, topical and educational programming for adults and children. 

Library director Diane Insley often works directly with patrons. This day she was working the front desk. Photo Credit: Joseph Castro/KTSW News special contributor
Library director Diane Insley often works directly with patrons. This day she was working the front desk. | Joseph Castro

“When you compare our library to other community libraries of our size or similar size, we’re number one as far as attendance, you know door count through the door,” said Insley. “We’re also number one for program attendance, so meaning we offer a lot of classes that we find interesting or educational and a lot of children’s programs that are attended by a wide variety of ages.”

Programs and events are free and open to the public. The library calendar shows a multitude nearly every day. All that you need to attend is a library card, according to Insley. Austin Allen, a graduate of Texas State University, has been coming to the library for over six years. 

“I feel like it’s definitely deserved,” said Allen. “I have experienced different kinds of libraries throughout my life and this one really seems to have a great community, both in terms of the staff that really care about fostering a positive environment for the San Marcos community, but also as well as the people that show up every week to these different events.” 

The San Marcos Public Library also benefits from Friends of the Library, a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization, supports the library through fund-raising, volunteer work and advocacy. They raised $1 million to provide furniture in the library when it was newly built. 

Featured Image by Joseph Castro. 

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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