History of Grapevine Public Library from 1971-1990

The 1970 census counted 7,023 individuals in Grapevine. The current library quarters were becoming too cramped, so City Council considered the feasibility of purchasing the old First National Bank building for a City Library and architects’ drawings of the building showing conversion to a library were reviewed. Further discussion was delayed pending additional studies. In November 1971, a motion was made in Council to authorize the City Manager to get plans drawn on a building for the library. On November 16, Council instructed the City Manager to proceed with library plans by architect Oliver Tucker.

In February 1972, Mr. Tucker presented plans for the proposed library building to Council. A motion was made to accept bids on March 7. The new library was to be built north of the Police Department building. All bids for a new library building were rejected for being too high. In April, Mr. Tucker discussed ways the City could proceed with plans to build the library building, which was to be located on a 50-ft. X 100-ft. lot next to the police station. Library Board member Joe Kennedy spoke to Council about recommendations and plans for a county-wide library board. In May, Council approved rules and regulations of a City library board. At a meeting in June, Council proceeded to lease a building for the library and to remodel the present council room and library.

The library opened in August at 424 Main St., a location formerly occupied by the Hobby Shop. It was across from City Hall, just south of Rogers Office Supply. There were 9,000 volumes on the shelves. A drive-in book drop was added which opened either from the street or the sidewalk. In September, Mrs. Eidson resigned as librarian but continued to help out part-time.

Mrs. Robbie Gibbs

Mrs. Robbie Gibbs became City Librarian in October, and the library was open 40 hours, five days a week beginning on October 1. In November, Council passed Resolution R72-33, in which the library accepted membership in the Fort Worth Major Resource System. New library hours were 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.

Grapevine Population Continues to Grow

By 1973, Grapevine had grown to an estimated population of 10,459. In March, Council discussed having Open House in the near future for the newly remodeled City Council chamber and the new location for the library. It was held on Sunday, April 1, 1973 from 1 to 5 p.m. In June,  the library received a grant for $475 from the federal Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA). It was intended to serve as an incentive for improved local support. Mrs. Gibbs reported in July on the operation of the library since October 1972. She invited the Mayor and City Council to a meeting July 26, 1973, 7:30 p.m., at the Euless Public Library, with the Tarrant County Library Study Committee. She stated the Tarrant County Commissioners Court appointed the study committee to recommend a method of financing county libraries, or the possibility of a county-wide library system. She stated the county-wide system would be administered by a 15-member Board, of which only five members would be from outside the Fort Worth district. Mrs. Gibbs added she was opposed to a county-wide library system, as were most of the county librarians. Mayor Tate expressed his appreciation of the job Mrs. Gibbs had been doing in the library.

In February 1974, Pat Morton, representative of the League of Women Voters of Tarrant County, briefed the Council on an “open forum” meeting, regarding library services in the county, to be held March 5, 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Worth YWCA. She stated the League’s position was “support of measures to improve library services and facilities; continued evaluation of special library districts and/or county-wide library systems.” A special Council meeting was held in June to determine priorities in City services that would create efficiency in departments and service for the citizens. Mrs. Gibbs stated that she would say what she had accomplished during her employment with the City. She reported that she had placed approximately 1,422 books on the shelves, not counting paperback books. There were 43 periodicals in the library. She started six story telling hours through the winter months and two in the summer. There was a reading club during the summer. She promoted interlibrary loans. The budget she was working with this year was $18,500 and the budget for 1974-75 would be $23,424. She requested a full-time clerical helper, and that the only increase in the budget would be for book purchases. Tarrant County gave the library $2,000 a year for the purchase of new books, given on a .30 per capita basis based on the 1970 census, and she was in the process of trying to get an increase based upon the growth of the City.

Mrs. Gibbs indicated that she would like Council to give $1,000 above what the County gave her. The mayor stated that the City of Grapevine should at least match what the County gave the library for books. Mrs. Gibbs stated that since her arrival, she had issued approximately 1,022 library cards. Councilman Eidson stated that he would like to see the figure of $9,000 changed to $10,500 for the County Auditor. Councilman Dalton stated that the City could not wait until the new building was erected before new books were bought. He felt that new books should be the ultimate goal of the library. At this time the library was located at 422 Main St.

Library Appreciation Month

In January 1975, the Mayor signed a proclamation for Library Appreciation Month. Mrs. Gibbs served as president of the Tarrant Regional Libraries Association in 1975-76 and on the Future Committee of the Major Resources System. In April, Council passed a resolution commending the library and Mrs. Gibbs for the fine efforts put forth in recognizing Public Library Week. The following month, the Mayor signed a proclamation designating February as Library Appreciation Month.

During February 1976, Council adopted the resolution to commend County Judge Mike Moncrief and the County Commissioners for their assistance to the Grapevine Public Library. Mrs. Gibbs stated that two major efforts came to mind. First, that additional funds were now available to many of the smaller libraries, whereas in the past, the larger cities had received the majority of county funds. Second, that the Commissioners Court was responsible for numerous changes concerning smaller libraries. In September, the library became a member of the Interlibrary Loan Program and of the Film Circuit of the Major Resources System. Upon request, films could be obtained for use by civic organizations.

New Library Building Approved

In April 1977, Council accepted recommendations of City staff to use allocated funds of fifty-six thousand dollars to complete the construction of the new four-thousand-three-hundred-square-feet library facility on Dallas Rd., and on May 12, the Friends of the Library was founded. In July, Mrs. Gibbs called a meeting of the Library Board to review the architectural plans for the Library portion of the new Police/Library building before Council approved them. The Board approved the plans. Mrs. Gibbs reported to Council in September on experimental evening hours and other library matters. She advised that over a two-week period, forty-nine persons used the library during those hours and checked out a total of one hundred fifty-nine books. She then read a recommendation for the Board requesting that in addition to regular hours, the library remain open from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays and remain open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The Board further recommended (based on increased circulation and additional hours) that an additional paid employee be hired. No Council action was taken at this time.

Library assistants Paula, Taylor, left, and Vivian Tribble, right, pack books for the move.

Library hours were expanded in October: Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. Special provisions were placed in the bidding specifications that the new facility had to ready for occupancy by April 1, 1978, since the library had to vacate its current location by that date. By December, a series of technical stumbling blocks caused a delay in the City’s letting the bids on the new building. The contract for the new five-thousand square-feet facility was finally awarded to Cardinal Builders, Inc. for $297,544. There was great concern that the building would not be ready by April 1 because the current library location had to be vacated by March 31. The worst-case scenario would have been closing the library for an undetermined period of time. Library supporters, including the forty-five-member Friends of the Library, said they would fight any move by the City to close the library at all. “[J]ust let them try to shut down our library,” one supporter responded. In mid-December, Cardinal Builders said they would try to complete the library area enough by March 15 to allow the library to move at that time.

The population of Grapevine had grown to 9,566 by 1978. Mrs. Gibbs worked on planning the new home for the Library at 307 W. Dallas Road. The library closed on March 14 to begin the process of packing sixteen thousand volumes. The move-in was undertaken in March with the help of patrons and Friends of the Library. In April, Mrs. Gibbs received her five-year service pin.  On April 10, she opened the doors of the new four thousand three-hundred square-feet library area. She had two library assistants, Paula Taylor and Vivian Tribble, and part-time aide Gloria Mack. Summer Film-Story Hour was held on Wednesday mornings for preschool and elementary kids. The Friends hosted a “Library Shower”, open to all area citizens. It was designed to furnish additional materials for the library. The first “gift” was a macramé owl wall hanging.

Police/Library building at 307 W. Dallas Rd.

Mrs. Gibbs shows off the collection in the new location.

In May, Council chose June 11 as Open House in the new Police/Library building. Following a poor response to an April amnesty period on overdue library books amounting to several hundred dollars, Mrs. Gibbs reluctantly followed City Ordinance 75-22, which stated that violators could be fined up to two hundred dollars a day for each book kept over a specified time. Police were thus authorized to visit residents with long-overdue books and collect the materials or cite the person for violating a city ordinance, which could go to court if the person chose to do so.

A New Library Director

Mrs. Gibbs retired on August 1. During her tenure, the number of volumes increased from eight thousand to seventeen thousand, and the budget increased from thirteen thousand dollars a year to a proposed fifty-thousand dollars. Mrs. Janis Roberson became the new library director. She emphasized that Grapevine wanted a library that could meet its citizens’ needs and gain their support. New items were added, such as children’s records, cassette tapes, and a microfilm reader. The Friends contributed funds to begin a large-print collection which enabled the library to serve nursing homes and the Senior Citizen Center.

Retiring library director Robbie Gibbs and incoming library director Janis Roberson

Mrs. Roberson continued to lead the library forward. In September, a new checkout system, the Gaylord Model C book charger, was installed. It stamped book cards with patron’s number and date of check-in or check-out; patrons no longer had to sign their names on book cards to check out books. A direct phone line into the library was installed to enable residents to call the library without going through the City Hall switchboard, as had been the case for many years. In October, a new Xerox 3100 photocopying machine was installed. Copies were ten cents for letter-size and fifteen cents for legal-size.

Mrs. Roberson reviewed proposed rules and regulations for the library as recommended by the Board. Council approved. The proposed ordinance of library fines was accepted by Council. The library was open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. In December, the library qualified for membership in the North Texas Library System (NTLS), allowing for cooperation between forty public libraries in the twenty-one-county area served by NTLS. Census microfilm was purchased from the National Archives branch in Fort Worth for genealogical research.

Library aide Sue Owens tests the new book charger.

Grapevine High School vocational student Judy Peden demonstrates use of new photocopier.

By 1980, Grapevine’s population had reached 11,801. A children’s librarian, Lisa Harper Eason, was hired. The library began checking out videocassettes after NTLS began pilot project of circulating these items. In 1981, library services expanded to include framed art prints and sculpture for circulation in homes and businesses. Art was funded by the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Magazine Index, a microfilm of periodical materials, was also made available in September. Federal census records on microfilm were also purchased, as well as three microfiche readers and one reader/printer to view and make copies of records and selected periodicals.

In March 1982, Kristi Kirchoff became the second children’s librarian. The library also acquired a dot matrix printer.

Children’s Librarian Lisa Harper Eason
Second Children’s Librarian Kristi Kirchoff
New microfiche readers

In 1983, an estimated sixteen-thousand people lived in Grapevine. In February, an Open House celebrating Library’s sixtieth birthday displayed a variety of new services. Librarians who served during the sixty years were honored: Gertie Hurst (represented by her daughter Mrs. Sue (Hurst) Lipscomb), Florence Florence, Maxine Eidson, and Robbie Gibbs. New library equipment included a listening table for records and cassettes, a Texas Instruments microcomputer, and the new backdrop for Kids Korner, a children’s program the library produced for cable television.

Invitation to the 60th birthday of Grapevine Public Library
In the Grapevine Sun, local businesses salute the library’s 60th birthday
60th birthday celebration cake
Heads of the Grapevine Public Library, left to right: Mrs. Robbie Gibbs, Mrs. Florence Florence, Mrs. Sue Lipscomb representing Mrs. Gertie Hurst, Mrs. Maxine Eidson, Mrs. Janis Roberson     

In May, the Library closed for one week to enable change from a manual to a computerized system. Grapevine brought up an automated circulation system using the existing the City’s existing IBM System 34 mainframe. Council considered a new Municipal Complex, beginning with library.

Funded by a grant from the Texas State Library through NTLS, in July 1983 the library added three TRS-80 color computers for one-week circulation to adult patrons.  This was part of a pilot project to provide computer learning experience to adults who may not have had access to computers. A TI 99-4A computer became available for in-house use. As the Dallas Rd. location was outgrowing its space, the City Manager proposed issuance of eight-hundred twenty-five thousand dollars in bonds for construction of new municipal library for voter consideration on August 30 (Proposition 2). If approved, it could be supplemented by a grant from the Texas State Library for funding up to two-hundred thousand dollars, which would allow the City to build a larger facility to meet the needs of growing community. Council approved City staff to proceed with the application. From 1978-1983, the Friends of the Library and other civic groups like the Garden Club, Rotary Club, Lions Club, ’36 Club, Bay View Club, and the Grapevine Historical Society, contributed time and money to expand services and increase materials. These efforts led to the passing of the bond issue in August 1983 for a new library building. In December, Council accepted one-hundred thirty-three thousand dollars in grant funds from the Texas State Library to help with the new building.

A New Library

In February 1984, Council authorized execution of an agreement with HBW Associates, Inc. for consultation services for the construction of a thirteen-thousand-square-feet library facility. In November, Mrs. Roberson advised Council that a request was made and money received from the Thomas-Edwards Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc. for the purpose of purchasing one table and six chairs to be used in the Children’s section of new library. Council approved accepting funds of $1,543.80. Ground breaking for the new library took place on November 7.

Grapevine upgraded in February 1985 to the IBM System 36, which provided more capabilities and better response time. A Reference Librarian was hired to develop reference collection and select non-fiction titles. By 1986, Grapevine’s population was 22,864. Ron Tester was hired as the full-time cataloger, and was the first library Employee of the Year. Mrs. Bennie Hicks became head of the Circulation Department. The library was closed while it was moved from the Police Building to the new facility at 1201 S. Main St. The collection consisted of 31,665 books and included home-grown automation. A preview of the library opening was held on February 28.

The new library’s grand opening was held on March 2, 1986, after the Texas Independence Day parade. The new building included a new security system to cut down on theft, two typing rooms with IBM typewriters a seven-hundred-square-feet meeting room for library programming, a loft in the children’s area, microcomputer areas for six computers, a genealogy area, and space to display books magazines, newspapers, and special collections for easy access. The Library saw an increase of forty percent in circulation in 1986. A volunteer program was implemented that provided twenty-five volunteers who contributed three hundred fifty hours per month. Library hours were extended to forty-six hours per week. In October, Judy McCoy became Media Librarian; she assisted with microcomputers and developed a collection that included compact discs (CDs), computer software, filmstrips, cassettes, talking book cassettes, and videocassettes.

New library, with landscaping

By 1987, 26,260 people were living in Grapevine. In November, David Coulter became supervisor over the computer lab. In December, the first library Christmas ornament debuted – a gold-plated circle with a wreath of grapes around the state of Texas on the inside. They sold for ten dollars each.

In March, on-line catalog access was brought up for patrons to determine availability of materials and number of reserves on materials. The InfoTrac II magazine index system was installed and the microfiche index was removed. Patrons could search more than three years of issues of over 400 magazines and journals, as well as the last three months of the New York Times. Mrs. Roberson observed, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” In April 1988, the Library celebrated sixty-five years of service with an Open House.

First library Christmas ornament

By 1990, the population of Grapevine reached 29,703. Library circulation soared past the three-hundred thousand mark to 319,933 and the number of library holdings reached 87,568.

In our next blog, we’ll look back at the years 1991-2001 in Grapevine Public Library history.

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