Vivian Alba looks for a book at the Gladys Johnson Ritchie Library Wednesday. She is one of nearly 3,000 registered library users who make 21,000 visits to
Vivian Alba looks for a book at the Gladys Johnson Ritchie Library Wednesday. She is one of nearly 3,000 registered library users who make 21,000 visits to the library each year. (Cherry Rushin)
This is the time of year Lanora Joslin most dreads. As the director of the Gladys Johnson Ritchie Library, her upcoming year depends largely on the budgeting decisions of the Jacksboro City Council and the Jack County Commissioners.

Joslin said the County has been consistent in its support, but the City has been a gamble. Last year, the City funded the library with $20,000. The year before that the library received only $5,000.

“Every year, I have to start from zero,” she said. “And that’s not what the original council intended. I wish they would just decide to support the library and if the library needs more, we go and ask for that.
Lanora Joslin waits on a patron. The librarian anxiously awaits the budget decisions of local government.
Lanora Joslin waits on a patron. The librarian anxiously awaits the budget decisions of local government. (Cherry Rushin)


Before the current library, Jacksboro had a library operated by a club located on Archer Street where Appearance Salon is now.

“In 1978 Leigh McGee, who used to be the newspaper publisher, and a group went to city council because they wanted to build a public library. Gladys Ritchie was a part of that group,” Joslin said.

“The city council approved the library and appointed the first board. Ed Henry Stewart, Ralph Hammond and some others purchased the land where the library now sits. They put it up here because the school asked them to build it adjacent to their property because the elementary school did not have a library.”

Joslin said Mrs.

Advertisement

Ritchie got tired of waiting for the City to build a library so she made an offer.

“She asked the city council, school board and commissioners if she went ahead and built it, would they maintain it and operate it,” Joslin said. “I think Mrs. Ritchie really thought the school, county and city would take care of it and the school did, but when they built their new facilities, they stopped.”

When the school pulled the majority of its funding, the library budget was cut by two-thirds.

“We still get $4,500 a year from the school that I use for kids' programming,” Joslin said. “But it costs at least $60,000 or $5,000 a month to operate and that’s not part of the $60,000. The county has been really good and would probably give more than the $25,000 they do now, but not until the city does.”

The problem is that the library is its own entity. Though it’s a public library, it operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. It’s one of only 14 such libraries in the state.

To read the complete article, see the Aug. 1 edition of the Herald.