Outside the house, a small red sign says, “Fairmount Library.”
Inside, stuffed bookshelves line the walls and reach the ceilings. Comfortable couches and free coffee beckon patrons, and a children’s room provides books and blocks, among other trinkets, as entertainment.
After nearly closing its doors last year, the small neighborhood library is thriving with poetry nights, craft classes and children’s story hours.
“Our vision is to turn this into a true community center where people can gather, read, take classes or just hang out,” said Sara Karashin, who lives in Fairmount on Fort Worth’s near south side and volunteers at the library. “This is a space for everyone. We hope people of all ages, backgrounds and communities can come and feel welcome.”
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When the longtime operators announced last year they would close the library for lack of interest, Fairmount residents Alicia Bohannon and Christina Carney stepped in to try to save it.
Bohannon, a former high school English teacher turned stay-at-home mother, said she has seen firsthand the importance of reading in children’s lives and hated the idea of any library closing.
“It is incredibly important that young people read constantly,” she said. “The best way to build a vocabulary and learn grammar and punctuation is through immersion and reading, not drills.”
So the women pooled their money and sought donations to buy the library’s books and cover rent for the house in the historic neighborhood. Area businesses offered support, and the nearby cafe Brewed organized a Wiffle ball tournament to raise money. Dreamy Life Records rented a room in the house where it opened a small shop.
In February, the Fairmount Community Library celebrated with a grand opening.
“It felt so good to finally see the library packed with people,” Bohannon said. “The support we received from the neighborhood was awesome.”
Classes in French language and vegetable growing, and popular events such as a Harry Potter-themed party have drawn dozens of patrons. Many come from Fairmount and nearby neighborhoods, but directors say the library is open to everyone, and community groups can rent space.
Once a month, the library hosts poetry nights, inviting published and well-known poets and amateurs to read. The events regularly draw 30 to 40 people who share snacks and sip wine while listening to poetry. Attendance is free, but donations are welcome.
“It has been phenomenal to watch poetry nights grow,” said Carney, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington. “This event has been a hit, maybe because there wasn’t a dedicated venue for poetry before.”
A seven-member volunteer board runs the operation, from accounting to event planning.
The 5,000-book library now offers informal tutoring for school-age children and hopes to expand it soon. A summer reading program for kids is underway, Bohannon said, and workshops on gardening, painting and poetry are in the works.
“We have a lot of dreams and ideas for this place,” she said. “It’s just a matter of what we tackle next.”
Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056