The first Bedford Public Library, located in a small rented house on Bedford Road, opened on June 30, 1964. In 1968, the Library moved to a larger house on Forest Ridge Drive. In 1972, a new City Hall was constructed nearby and the library moved the collection of 19,800 items to the first floor of the new facility. Construction of the 17,000 square foot building on L. Don Dodson Drive was completed in 1987. In 2001, the city passed an $8.85 million bond package to build a new library facility.
In March 2005, a successful property tax rollback election resulted in decreased funding for city services. As a result Bedford Public Library was closed on March 30, 2005. On April 15, 2005, an anonymous donation of $300,000 was given to the City, with $125,000 earmarked for the library. The Friends of the Bedford Public Library held multiple fundraising events that collected in excess of $21,000. On May 3, 2005, the library re-opened for a reduced schedule of 21 hours a week.
In August 2007, City Council voted to purchase a former grocery store for $2.215 million from the HEB Independent School District with the voter approved bond funds. The building was ideal for the library since it was located in the Cultural District, had ample square footage and was in close proximity to the Historic Old Bedford School. The City hired Hidell and Associates Architects to design a new library. The firm was chosen for its creativity and conviction that community involvement was paramount to the success of designing a library that would meet the needs of citizens in the future. Users were invited to participate in surveys and focus groups. The community was invited to a series of Library Design Workshops to lay out the library of their dreams. A Town Hall Meeting was held in July 2008 and the community was asked to vote on their favorite library design. The design created by a group of teens won by an overwhelming margin. The architects created four conceptual floor plans based on the winning design. The City Council approved the concept that provided 65 public access computers, a dedicated Teen Center, a large community room, seven study rooms, a Quiet Reading Room, an expanded children’s area, a dedicated Story Time room and a Discovery Room. The design increased the square footage of the building from 37,000 square feet to 40,516 square feet. The selected design converted the existing Food Lion grocery store structure from an eyesore to a building that Bedford citizens can be proud of for years to come.
Concerned with doubling utility costs, library staff aggressively pursued shovel-ready grant opportunities and received over $2.1 million in state and federal grants. The new Library saves energy and tax dollars through these green initiatives:
Today’s Bedford Public Library is a vibrant, state-of-the-art facility that has become a popular destination for its citizens. The Library is open 7 days a week for a total of 59 hours. The Library collection includes over 100,000 items including adult and children’s classics, modern best sellers, paperbacks, magazines, DVDs, music CDs and audio books. The Information Services Division prides itself on answering questions using authoritative services and educating patrons in how to use these resources. The Library acts as a bridge for the digital divide by providing public computers, online databases, ebooks, free wireless Internet access and computer classes. The Youth Services Division seeks to instill a passion for reading and learning in the children in our community. A host of program opportunities, including toddler and preschool story times, Mother Goose story time, Library Buddies teen tutoring, Bookworms book club and various adult programs are offered. The library continues to search for new and better ways to provide services and to involve itself in the community.
- Adaptive reuse of an existing building
- A 251 kW photovoltaic system featuring 824 solar panels that will produce 350,000 kWh of energy per year
- A reflective white roof to increase solar energy production and improve the efficiency of the air conditioning system
- A geothermal heat pump system which uses the earth's core temperature to heat and cool the building
- Natural lighting that has been maximized with windows featuring low-e glass