Town of Rice's First Public Library is a Community Effort Led by Teacher and Mayor

A school teacher and mayor teamed up to lead the effort to open their town's first public library

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All summer long, we've been Reading With You through our childhood literacy campaign. It's in an effort to keep kids excited and engaged in reading all summer long. But what if you don't have a place to even check out books?

That was the reality for kids in Rice, a small town in Navarro County until an Ennis Independent School District teacher stepped in. Now, Amparito Ramirez is doing her part to promote learning in the small community.

Ramirez, a Rice resident, first approached the town's mayor, J. Nicole Jackson, in an email last October. She says Mayor Johnson recognized the need too, emailing her back in less than a day. Then the two got to work fast.

"Just having a place for the kids was my main goal, and having reading at the forefront to let them know that it is important. That it is something that's going to advance you in life," Ramirez said.

Ramirez said it took time, but they were able to open the William Marsh Rice Public Library at the city hall in early July. The town celebrated with a ribbon cutting, book reading, plus arts and crafts for kids.

The best part of the move is that they did not have to do much work to the space because the city hall is located inside the town's former elementary school.

Ramirez says her goal is to continue growing the resources for the library so that it can serve the entire needs of the community.

"This world is technology driven and you need a computer now to do an interview. You need a computer or you need to print things out every day," Ramirez said. "So if our community doesn't have access to that at home, I want to be that place that they can go to so they don't have to drive 30 minutes."

Ramirez says they still have a long way to go to meet all of their goals for the library. She's hopeful for the future because the whole project has really been a community-wide effort.

Right now the library is open during the city's hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. That's because city workers and volunteers are helping run the facility when she's at work. There are plans to have events at least once a month for residents of all ages.

Ramirez, who recently became the librarian at Ennis ISD’s Alamo Middle School, started the library with nearly 300 books from her own classroom’s library. She said there has been an outpouring of support from around North Texas. The Ennis Library has donated books, Friends of the Arlington Library too. Ramirez says neighbors in Rice have helped her with books, monetary donations as well as their time.

The library is still accepting donations. Ramirez says Spanish language books are a priority because more than 20% of the school district's students are in ESL classes.

Books can be donated to Rice City Hall at 305 N. Dallas St. Rice, Texas 75155.

The city is also accepting checks, make sure to label the money for the "William Marsh Rice Public Library."

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