People moving into Denton County are doing more than adding rooftops across the rural parts of the county. They’ve led to a revival in public library spending.

Rural libraries across Texas have been battered over the past decade since the 2008 recession. Libraries like the one in Ponder had to cut down on staff. Others scaled back hours or removed programs because of budget constraints.

Kathy Ramsey, the Aubrey Area Library director, said Denton County commissioners around 2009 asked libraries to reduce their funding requests.

“And we did,” Ramsey said. “We never really got any increases moving forward.”

That will change in 2020. Commissioners are expected to give 10 libraries that take county funding about $36,400 more next year than last year.

As the proposal coordinator for the Denton County Library Advisory Board, Ramsey proved to county leaders this year that people moving into incorporated parts of Denton County are putting a greater demand on libraries in places like Krum, Little Elm, Aubrey and Sanger.

By the numbers

Denton County commissioners are expected to give libraries that take county funding about $36,400 more next year than last year. Here is the breakdown for those libraries, according to the Denton County Budget Office:

Library 2020 funding 2019 funding
Aubrey $21,500 $18,200
Carrollton $63,200 $51,400
Flower Mound $57,000 $50,500
Justin $13,100 $12,500
Krum $13,700 $13,600
Lewisville $78,900 $73,800
Little Elm $43,600 $36,200
Pilot Point $13,300 $13,700
Ponder $12,000 $11,300
Sanger $16,700 $16,000
The Colony $43,400 $42,800

“They all find us,” Ramsey said. “They all want library cards.”

The 10 libraries — in Aubrey, Carrollton, Flower Mound, Justin, Krum, Lewisville, Little Elm, Ponder, Sanger and The Colony — allow any Denton County resident to have a library membership for free because they receive funding from the county. They serve people inside city limits and those who live in development communities like Lantana and Paloma Creek.

Commissioner Hugh Coleman supported Ramsey and the advisory board in the effort to secure more funding.

“I know we need to spend money on jails, but spending money on educating people, we get a lot better bang for our buck,” Coleman said. “I think if we get people educated, it helps people pursue careers and education in the long term.”

Audrey Tolle, the Sanger Public Library director, said the $700 bump from the county won’t solve all her problems but does show her the county has faith in her library’s mission.

“They’re helping us get the message out there that libraries serve many purposes not just being warehouses for books but all the programs we offer, the computer access, the assistance we provide,” Tolle said. “For especially even smaller cities than Sanger who aren’t given as much by the city when their budgets are very small to begin with, the county can make a big difference.”

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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