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 about our Officers
President Rachel Cruz
Rachel has lived in Bellaire with her husband and two children for almost five years, and is in her 2nd 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.
Vice President, Andrea Ehlers
Andréa Ehlers is returning to serve on the Board of the Friends of the Bellaire Library after many years as a Board Member and 2 years as 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.
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.
Director Erin Brau
Erin joined our board in 2018 and is a firm believer in the positive impact of a public library 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.
Director Dan Riley
Dan joined our board in 2018. He has lived in Houston for 43 years including the last 18 in Bellaire. He is now retired after working many years owning/operating in the energy industry, healthcare industry and commercial real estate. Dan loves to read, golf and spend time with his family including his 2 grandsons.
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, Teresa Lin
Teresa moved to the U.S. when she was 10 years old, and did not speak a word of English. Her love of reading, already cemented in Chinese, grew with her need to reach fluency and understanding in English. Teresa attended Stanford University. After practicing corporate and securities law for 8 years, she left the practice of law to raise her children. Her favorite time of day is reading books with her children at bedtime. Teresa is especially interested in representation in children’s and adult literature, in which main characters are people of color, yet the plot isn’t centered on their race or ethnicity. Teresa currently runs an upscale kids’ resale business out of her home. She is always looking for native speakers with whom to practice Chinese.
Jo has lived in Bellaire for 59 years. Born in Memphis, TN, she moved here in 1955 and attended all the schools in Bellaire at the time. As a Librarian for HISD for 28 years, Jo has a passion for books, children and helping them become lifelong readers. She may have even been your child’s librarian, having worked at Horn, Kolter, Pershing and Bellaire Senior High. Jo earned a Masters Degree in Microbiology and holds a Masters in Library Science.
John has lived in Bellaire for almost 50 years and is a former Bellaire City Councilman. Born overseas to a military family, John has traveled the world and lived in numerous countries. He worked in the software industry and healthcare finance. Now retired, he and his wife Jo continue their travels to experience different cultures and broaden their horizons.