All Lake Travis-Westlake library districts are developing a new library facility, adding to existing facilities or upgrading their existing libraries.
As each facility is either built or upgraded, much of the focus will be on modernizing the space to meet the needs of the community, several library directors said.
The Lake Travis-Westlake area has four library districts: Lake Travis Community, Bee Cave, Westbank and Spicewood libraries.
Each library district is anticipating significant changes over the next few years, library officials said.
“In these stressful and competitive times, our libraries strive to be a sanctuary where people feel welcome, comfortable, relaxed and supported,” Westbank Community Library Director Mary Jo Finch said.
The Lake Travis Community Library has one location off Lohmans Crossing Road in Lakeway; by late 2023 or early 2024, the district is seeking to add another library called Lake Travis Community Library West off Hwy. 71 in Spicewood.
The main reason for building the library is growth in the service areas in Spicewood, Briarcliff, Bee Creek and Rough Hollow, Lake Travis Library Director Morgan McMillan said.
The new library will also be making more services and programs available to more patrons, McMillan said.
Library programs at the Lake Travis Library range from live music events to stress management classes.
Sound Bath Meditation is a free meditative class held at the Lake Travis Library. It is run by sound healing and yoga studio Cloud 9 Wellness; co-owner Jessica Dixon said she looks forward to offering more classes at the new location when it opens.
"I trust that the new location will be just as wonderful and impactful to the Spicewood area,” Dixon said.
Lake Travis Library officials surveyed the public about the new Spicewood location at the beginning of the year, according to library documents.
Of the 829 people who responded to the survey, over 86% of respondents said they look forward to borrowing library materials, and nearly 60% of respondents indicated they would visit the west location when it opens.
“I imagine our new library won’t be able to keep up with growth out there,” McMillan said. “We’re going to need a free-standing, bigger building.”
Bee Cave Library officials are designing a 24,000-square-foot, three-story library with modern amenities, including a separate work area for technical services, 45,000 books, laptop-docking work stations, a public conference room, individual study rooms and usable outdoor spaces.
Once completed, which is tentatively set for 2025, the Bee Cave Library will move from the City Hall building in the Hill Country Galleria to a location still to be determined, the library’s Public Service Manager Gretchen Hardin said.
A modern library means having more space and flexibility for programs, she said, adding it is supposed to meet the needs of people today while also having the flexibility to change 15-20 years from now.
One example of this comes from the new Round Rock Public Library, which Bee Cave Library officials toured to get ideas for their new, modern library.
“They have learning spaces that can be used for [English as a second language] classes or technology learning, but they can also use that same space for something they have not even thought of yet,” Hardin said.
A primary reason to modernize the library is that its role has also changed over the years, Bee Cave Library Director Barbara Hathaway said.
“We’ve embraced the idea that learning is more than just reading. ... We also try to not just connect people to resources, like books or databases, but to each other,” she said.
The Laura Bush Library off Bee Caves Road is undergoing a $2.3 million renovation. The library, which is part of the Westbank Community Library District that serves Westlake, Steiner Ranch and West Austin patrons, closed March 31 for construction through fall 2023.
Renovations will include modernizing the library’s amenities, Finch said.
“We are developing our backyard areas as play, programming and gathering spaces,” she said.
It is vital to focus on programming and gathering spaces because that is what people are using the library for in 2023, Westbank Public Relations Librarian Maureen Carey said.
The two libraries had 15,596 attendees for Westbank Community Library District programs in 2022.
The pandemic also taught the importance of usable outdoor spaces for gatherings, Carey said.
The Westbank Community Library, located in Westlake, will also undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation project next year.
The Spicewood Community Library, serving western Travis and Burnet counties, is in the preliminary stages of building a new 3,000 square-foot, $1.5-2 million library.
The library is outgrowing its space as developers keep building in Spicewood, library board-member-at-large Jane Gannaway said.
In 2022, nearly 5,000 people visited the library to check out just shy of 3,000 items and attended 822 programs, according to library documents.
The library’s only source of income is the thrift shop, which is attached to the library. Funding and support from the community, through donations, fundraising and yard sales, will be needed for the new library, Gannaway said.
“Community members will inform the future of the library,” Gannaway said.