ABOUT FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY
In 1949, the small town of Bellaire was rapidly developing into a suburban community on the fringe of Houston. That year the Bellaire Women’s Civic Club was formed. In January of 1951 a committee was named from the club for the formation of a Bellaire Library.
The committee’s first move was to hold a community-wide book drive. Books were collected, selected and catalogued under the direction of Mrs. Vincent Prendergast, a professional librarian who was also a member of the Women’s Civic Club.
The Friends formally presented the Library to the City of Bellaire in May of 1951. The library was set up in an 18′ x 20′ room in the Community Building.
Five women of the Women’s Civic Club were elected to form the first library board to “help guide the destiny” of the Library.
Annual Funding Activities
In 2018, Friends of the Bellaire Library donated $14,333 to the Bellaire Library for key actiivities. These activies include:
-Bookpage - Popular monthly give-away of book reviews and articles
-World Book Encyclopedia 2019
-Support for Children’s summer programming
-Summer reading incentives
-Teen Programs and Incentives
(Summer of 2018 had 124 register.)
-Adult Programs and Incentives
(Summer of 2018 had 124 register.)
-New Story Time carpet
-Hoopla (Digital Library)
-Adult Book Club with (4 meetings)
The Early Years
Volunteers Help the Library Grow
The “Friends of the Library” had their first organizational meeting on October 22, 1951, just six months after opening the Bellaire Library. By-laws were adopted at the first public meeting on December 6, 1951. The Friends appealed to service and garden clubs to include the library on their list of projects.
The Friends continued to press the city to support the expanding library. In 1953, a group of the Friends of the Library met with Mr. Gary Summers (the city manager) to discuss plans for expanding the library. In August 1953, the construction of two new rooms began. The Friends began to raise money to buy furniture for the new addition by collecting donations, selling the Book of Health, and using various other means such as having a silver tea. In the summer of 1954, the Friends sponsored the first summer reading program, called the Davy Crockett Reading Club.
The first Book Sale on record was in October of 1954. In the fall of 1955, another successful Book Fair was sponsored by the Friends of the Library, and in 1956 the first outdoor Used Book Sale took place in the arcade of the Bellaire Center.
In the spring of 1957, The Library Board worked on a plan for the future to secure a new library building. They met with City Council about soliciting funds to build a new building. Council opposed this plan, believing the city would be able to take care of the library requirements for more space in due time. They thought that within five years this could happen. Until then, the City Council Room was added to the library when an addition to City Hall was complete.
The Library moved into their new building on May 9, 1962. The building on Jessamine was fifteen times larger than the original space.
In 1974, the Friends helped in securing and funding the Bellaire Library Addition.
Officers of Friends of the Bellaire Library
A Bit of Background.....
2020 Friends of the Bellaire Library Board
President, Andrea Ehlers
Andréa Ehlers has served on the Board of the Friends of the Bellaire Library for many years as a Board Member and 2 years as a former President. Andréa is a voracious reader and exclusively utilizes the Houston Area Online Digital Media Catalog (https://www.hoopladigital.com/) to checkout eBooks to read on her Kindle. She is a certified PMP and certified SPHR and works in the IT arena, designing, implementing and supporting ERP systems. Andrea and her husband have two children, now both in college. She is a proud graduate of Rice University.
Vice President, Erin Brau
Erin joined our board in 2018 and is a firm believer in the positive impact a public library can have on a community, including childhood literacy, local economy advancement and workforce development. She has 3 children and is active in the community volunteering for JobNet, where she coaches and helps people find jobs and also for P.E.O., a non-profit organization that is focused on providing educational opportunities for female students worldwide. She works as Vice President of Marketing for ICON Information Consultants, a global human capital solutions company.
Treasurer, Ali Septimus
Ali graduated Texas State University with a degree in Accounting & has served as President of The Friends for the past 3 years. She was PTO Treasurer at Condit Elementary where she also served as PTO President. Ali works from home as a bookkeeper & loves to run and volunteer with the family’s pet therapy golden retriever, Sonny. Ali & husband Josh have 2 children, who are avid readers and love the library!
Secretary, Charie Procter
Charie has served on the Board of the Friends of the Bellaire Library since 2014. She, her husband, and their two sons have lived in Bellarie since 2004. She is currently an Associate Teacher with the Houston Independent School District, and her love of the library was first noted through her volunteering for Condit Elementary’s school library.
Past President (ex officio), Rachel Cruz Auwarter
Rachel has lived in Bellaire with her husband and two children for almost five years, and is in her 3rd year of service on the Board. A litigation attorney by training, Rachel took a break from full-time practice to be home with her young children. When she’s not chasing after the kids, she enjoys engaging in activities at Condit Elementary School and volunteering with MD Anderson Cancer Center and local non-profit organizations. Rachel is a native Floridian and proud graduate of Brown University in Rhode Island.
Director, Lara Griffiths
Lara has a Bachelor’s from Texas A&M and a MBA in Finance. She is involved in Scouts BSA, Girl Scouts, and other non-profit organizations. She has worked in health care for over 20 years. She volunteered for Scholastics, Books between Kids, Boy Scouts (now Scouts BSA) and Girl Scouts plus other organizations.
Director, Lucinda Kontos
An over twenty year Bellaire resident, Lucinda has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from University of Houston, She has been an engineer at IBM’s Burlington, VT semiconductor plant, then moved on to working with customers in the Bay Area, Vermont and Houston. She currently works for Cisco Systems. She’s volunteered at the Nature Discovery Center and at her daughter’s schools running the Student Enrichment Program, Book Discussion Group and publishing the Fine Arts newsletter. She is excited to get more involved with the Bellaire library.
Director, Jane McNeel
Jane has been a resident of Bellaire since 1956 and attended Bellaire High School and University of Houston. Jane’s professional background is in accounting and bookkeeping, small business management, and financial oversight. She retired in 2016 after 20 years as a project administrator with Rice University. Since the late 1960s, she has been involved in numerous civic organizations ranging from PTOs to the Bellaire Women's Civic Club, the Bellaire Home Tour, Habitat for Humanity, and the Board of the Friends of the Bellaire Library, where she previously served on the board for over ten years.
Director, Kevin Newman
Kevin graduated from Bellaire High School and has lived in the city of Bellaire for over 20 years. He has served as Vice Chair of the B.L.I.F.E. board and is a graduate of the Bellaire Citizens Academy. Kevin loves to read is looking forward to serving for the first time on the Board of the Friends of the Bellaire Library.
He currently owns a Web Design and Internet Marketing company. He has a passion for the city, its future, and a new library.
Director, Pegi Newhouse
Pegi is another familiar face, having given countless hours of service to the Library in her 5 previous years on the board of the Friends. She loves seeing how the efforts of the Friends can impact the Bellaire Library and the surrounding community. Pegi is a communications and marketing professional and has been an active volunteer in the community of Bellaire and Houston for more years than she can remember. Pegi is a graduate of Texas A&M and is active in the Aggie community. Pegi and her husband, Bob, have two teenage children.