Bertram’s first library began in the early 1930’s and was housed upstairs over Sullivan’s Store and later upstairs over McFarland’s Drugstore (now the Lewis Building). The library was founded by a group of ladies from the Literary Club, who pooled together their own private home libraries to form a lending library. They were Mrs. A.B. McGill, Mrs. N. Oliver Cox, Mrs. Edward White, Mrs. Sam Taylor, Nancy Lee Ellis, Mrs. John B. Chamberlain, Mrs. Reed Davidson, Mrs. John Russell, Mrs. E.A. Gay, Mrs. A.J. Newton, Mrs. R. W. McFarlin, Mrs. T. J. Taylor, Evelyn Taylor, and another lady whose name was unreadable from the original document. The library became a branch of the Burnet County Library System in 1948, and the first paid librarian was Lila Wilson, followed by Thelma Warden, Joann Taylor Mayerson, Mrs. Doss Smith, Mrs. Betty Box, Mrs. Quinnetta Ater, and Mrs. Sue Caraway. An old store building (current location) was donated rent free to the library by Mr. and Mrs. R.E. (Bob) Brewer since the late 1940’s.
The Friends of the Bertram Free Library were organized on May 6, 1978, and the first Friends’ president was Virginia Oertli, followed by Grace Taylor and many more. The Friends’ Thrift Shop was organized in 1981, and proceeds from the shop fund new library books and materials, Summer Reading, and many other necessities.
Expansion came about in 1991 with the passing of a dear community member and avid library supporter, Ada (Reed) Brewer. There were overwhelming amounts of memorial donations, and the library (about 30′ x 30′) couldn’t contain the new gifts. Expansion began with the help of many volunteers, and the library became the main focus of the community, with everyone following the daily progress, which doubled the size of the library. The expansion was dedicated to the memory of Ada Reed McGill Brewer and her mother Clara Moses McGill.
Dedication plaque at Library in memory of patrons Clara McGill and Ada Brewer
In November of 2000 the Friends of the Library purchased the building that currently houses the library and Thrift Shop, and in December of 2003 the Friends purchased land for a new library, which hopefully will be funded and built in the next few years.
Current Library site on N. Gabriel
Bertram is proud of its library, which has extensive and current collections. The library receives phenomenal support from the city and from its citizens. Librarian, Ann Brock, and Children’s Librarian, Judy Hardin, work hard to keep the library current and provide needed programs and updated materials. The computers are in constant use, and percentage-wise, our children’s programs are generally the most attended in the county library system.
In October of 2008, the Library increased its hours when Burnet County found the funding for two full time employees and one part time employee. The Library is now open Monday – Friday from 10:a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Currently, the Friends are working hard to fundraise and secure grants in order to build a new library.
Renderings of the proposed new Bertram Free Library which will be at the intersection of N Gabriel and Highway 29