There’s an interesting story behind the beginning of the Fairfield Bay Library. In 1972 there were a group of ladies who were a coffee and conversation group, then a garden group, and later became known as the Ladies Club. This was a group of about 40 women. At one of the monthly meetings of the Ladies Club, there was a suggestion of forming a library, three of the women the project on and in January 1973 the plan started coming together. At the February meeting 18 members of the Ladies Club signed up to be volunteers.
The library opened in April 1973 in a room above the Old Town Center location, was occupied. Then in August 1977 the library was moved to the Mall, with the space provided by the Community Club until it was no longer feasible for the Club to provide space. In 1975, according to Edith K. Lieb (one of the Ladies Club Members) the library became a Conway Regional Library. The budget for books in 1977 was $50 a month. Many books were donated by residents. When men wanted to participate as volunteers in the library, the name was changed to the Literary Club, and remained until 1991 when it became the Library Friends.
Several letters were sent to the State Attorney General’s office asking about millage for the library. However, the county seat in Van Buren County and as they had a library the tax millage went to that library. It may have been at this time that the ties were severed with Conway Regional Library. It is unclear when the library became unaffiliated with the Conway Regional Library, the affiliation was limited to the use of the regional library books.
In 1995, the Library Friends became Fairfield Bay Literary Club, Inc. and applied for and secured a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, which would allow tax deductions for donations of books and dollars. After the Community Club was no long able to provide space at the end of 1999, there was an extensive campaign in the community to find a location and build a library. In 2000 the current location was found, at the suggestion of Clark Chandler the construction was two have one rent space in order to offset the expense of running the library. Don Cuatt, who designed building, worked with other volunteers and a company from Mountain View, AR, built the library.
In 2000 the library became the Fairfield Bay Library, Inc. The library is a private public library, in that it is not a part of the regional library, receives no funds from the state or county, as all the funds go to the Van Buren County Library in Clinton.
In May 2006 the Library Board hired the first paid employee as Library Director. Sara Michael was hired for 20 hours a week. The library had only enough funds to guarantee her part time for two years. Financial support became her priority, not only to keep her position but to have a better library. Also, in 2006 the library was equipped with automated circulation. Annual dues were established as well.
Funding became available from several sources in 2007, and the director became a full time position. Volunteers were also an essential part of maintaining and running the library, and continues to this day. There were changes within the library during this time as well, with new shelving added and other cosmetic changes.
After that grants and gifts were received through various sources. New internet computers through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were donated in 2009. Chesapeake Energy also provided computers for the library, and Arkansas State Library grants were used to update the youth section and to purchase new chairs for the library.
Since then the library has been sustainable through monetary donations, book and other material donations, and an endowment given by Mr. Herrin. This interest from the endowment is used to help with library expenses. The endowment itself is maintained and left for the longevity of the library. If it were to be used there would be nothing to sustain the library. Other sources of income are monetary donations, grants, book sales, memberships, fines, fax, and candy bar sales. Also, the Fairfield Bay Library Friends, Inc. holds an annual golf tournament that brings in an excellent amount of dollars devoted to the library.
In 2013 Alice Chambers became the director of the Fairfield Bay Library. She continued on where Ms. Michael left off, looking for grants and other funding. Most recently she became part time three days a week and shares the job with Karen Tangen who works three days a week. They work hand in hand on projects, obtaining grants, and working with the volunteers. Their main concern in keeping a quality library with great reading, movies, audiobooks, large print books and computers for the patrons. It is also adding new patrons to the library.
“While the library only has 369 residential members, we would like to see at least 1,000 members from Fairfield Bay, supporting the library,” says Alice Chambers.
The timeshare visitors from Wyndham are excellent visiting patrons, and are welcomed with open arms to the library. Last year there were 506 timeshare library cards made with well over 1,000 users of the computers and Wi-Fi. Hopefully in the future you will see eBooks and updated computers in the library.