Funky Fort Davis

What a treat!  Jeff Davis County Library is one of those nook and cranny libraries – its unusual spaces are reminiscent of Southwest Harbor’s in Maine.  The one story building is over a hundred years old and was variously, the general store, a lumber/hardware business and a grocery.  The library moved into the downtown location in 1999, but there are tons of reminders of the structure’s previous history scattered about this delightful place.

Rife with basalt cliffs and resplendent changing cottonwoods and close to scenic Davis Mountain State Park…

… Fort Davis is the highest town in Texas – at an elevation of 5050′ we felt right at home.  Known for its Old West feel and recreation opportunities, there are a number of businesses in town despite the fact there are just a few thousand residents in the county.  

Due to its pioneer style, the library appears to be small with low ceilings, but once inside it’s spacious and uncluttered, despite holding about 34,000 items including some 1,900 CDs/books on CD and 4,500 DVDs/videos.

With original wood floors, antiques along the shelf tops and a neat little balcony overlooking the ground floor, there are whimsical touches everywhere.  A mini ceramic pitcher does duty as a pencil holder by a PAC.  Children’s crafts adorn shelves, an antique refrigerator stands by the video collection and what appears to be an old phone operator’s booth sits near an adult reading area.  This display of old books is really the icebox from when there was a meat counter here.  Ice blocks weighing 300 pounds were placed at either end. 

It’s by the library office, which is adorned with a huge stained glass sun, and the circ desk where library staffer Pat Prado gave me lots of helpful information.  

Supported by the Texas Trans-Pecos Library System, it’s a Plinkit library (I used to be the project coordinator for Plinkit and I do remember adding their name to the map of libraries using this software, never realizing I’d visit one day), and the website offers databases through TexShare. 

It was close to Thanksgiving when I was there, so a turkey in the youth area celebrated the upcoming holiday while a snowman in the YA area hinted of winter.  

In the Children’s Area a clever traffic light tells kids when they are getting too rowdy and a window seat beckons.  What a great place to read and imagine.

Plants are all over the shelves, even sitting on an old pot bellied stove.  There’s so much color and creativity here.  The bathrooms have antique doorhandles and are so appealing – the High Frontier Girls painted the Reader’s Nook and this bathroom with a sparkling sun on the ceiling… 

…which must have inspired an artistic community service volunteer as he subsequently decoupaged maps from everywhere onto the second bathroom’s ceiling.

There are a number of reading areas with oriental carpets, wood tables, cushy easy chairs, love seats, hassocks and tall ficus.  This one by Youth even has two seats for varying size children. 

And one by the entrance adjoins the magazine section – handy for those who just want a comfy place to kill some time (and if you don’t finish reading, you can check the periodicals out).

Old desks, chests, chairs and globes top a ledge accessible from the balcony that runs down one side of the building.  A donated quilt hangs from the decorative ceiling which sports fans with antique sconces.   

A surprising amount of storage is allowed by the ledge, balcony (you can go up on it) and other ingeniously positioned spots which must have once held inventory when this was a commercial facility – there’s even another stock area above this charming book alcove.

There are five public internet terminals and the library also offers large print books, ESL materials and the Book Shoppe, a permanent book sale area.   

By honoring the structure’s history and being extremely inventive JDCL has fashioned a beguiling and hospitable library that’s vital to the Fort Davis community.

Hope you all have a happy and healthy 2012!

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2 Responses to Funky Fort Davis

  1. Cindy Salo says:

    Dear Librarian,

    Thank you for this lovely description of the Fort Davis Library! I also enjoyed the town and the library when I visited last year. And I’m delighted to find another person who enjoys libraries…and writing about them. I just couldn’t resist linking to this in my post about Fort Davis.


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