LAKE DALLAS — Tucked away in a corner of the Lake Cities Library on Thursday morning, a small stack of books on a table grows as Grace Hargis, 4, continues to pull books off the library shelves one by one.
Her mother, Jenny Hargis, walks over to the table after selecting a few videos from the movie section and asks Grace in an astounded tone, “Are all of these yours?”
“Yeah,” her daughter says without hesitation as she walks back to the shelf to pull another book.
Hargis, a stay-at-home mom and Corinth resident, said she brings daughters Grace and Evie, 2, to the library at least once a week.
“It’s a weekly thing that we do and they love it,” she said.
So when Hargis learned that the library’s services would be threatened after Corinth City Council members voted to end the city’s partnership with the library in six months, she became upset.
“It’s frustrating,” she said. “I think it’s important to keep the budget where it is.”
The library is funded by Denton County, Corinth, Lake Dallas, Hickory Creek and Shady Shores. Residents from the county and each of the cities can use the library for free.
Last week Corinth decided to cut funding after March 2014 and only fund half a year. In recent years, the city has budgeted nearly $100,000 toward the library.
With Corinth’s exit, city residents — including the Hargis family — will have to pay to use the library’s services.
Hargis said the services the library provide are unique to each of the Lake Cities communities.
“This is the only library we have and it’s free,” she said. “I think it could be revamped and use more publicity, because there are a lot of people who don’t know about it.”
Hargis said the library’s free services replace some of the expenses that she and her family have cut. Instead of paying for cable and going to the movies, she said her family gets movies from the library.
“It’s an economical thing and it helps all families,” she said. “The library isn’t just for kids. It’s for adults and their families. People read here, they do research and they come here to use the computers.”
Just 20 minutes after the library opened Thursday, the building was already bustling with patrons from each of the Lake Cities and ages ranged from 2 to 65.
It’s a scene that library Director Barbra Thompson says repeats daily.
When news broke that Corinth would probably pull its funding, Thompson encouraged her employees to begin searching for another job.
Currently, Thompson said, she has three full-time and two part-time employees.
She expects to cut both part-time positions and one full-time position. And as she begins to construct the library budget, she said she hopes to save as many programs and services as she can.
“Corinth feels that they’re paying more than their share,” Thompson said.
Mayor Tony Marino said that Corinth has been talking about pulling funding for two years, but Thompson said conflicts mounted this year after the library board requested more funding in an attempt to fund future expansion.
The library’s building is owned by Lake Dallas, and Thompson said Corinth council members didn’t think it was their responsibility to fund the expansion of a building that they don’t own.
“Right or wrong — I don’t know. But that’s the way they see it,” she said.
The Corinth City Council voted last week to cut the city’s share of the library’s funding in six months. The council then approved the allocation of $10,000 to explore alternatives to the library.
Though nothing has been approved yet, the council has discussed possibly entering into an agreement with the city libraries located in Denton or Lewisville.
The Lewisville Public Library is free to any Texas resident, but the Denton Public Library isn’t free for people who live outside of Denton.
Another suggestion was that Corinth residents could use the library at North Central Texas College, which is free to the public.
But the only problem is that the library’s book selection is geared toward academic classes.
The library doesn’t carry children books, like Fancy Nancy, a book series that Grace and Evie both adore, which is evident from Grace’s whimpers that follow when she can’t reach a book from the series from the top shelf.
Two mothers, Jerwuan Defro and Kerri Ann Seidel from Lake Dallas, also brought their children to the library for the first time on Thursday.
They were shocked to learn the recent news about the library’s funding.
“We’re planning to make trips here about twice a week,” Defro said. “Our children already love it.”
As their children, who are just learning to read, continued to pull books off the shelves to admire the colorful pictures, the mothers said people can’t put a price on education and that they will begin supporting the library.
Residents who regularly use the library have questioned to what extent the library will change.
But as they walk into the library, they’re greeted with a large sign that reads, “This library will remain open.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.