Erma Brooks: San Angelo VISTA Revives a Piece of Local History
July 24, 2018
From 1932 to 1972, the Dunbar Historic Library was the only library that served African Americans in San Angelo during segregation. In 1972 the library fell into disuse until April 2017 when the San Angelo Lions Charities received a grant to restore the building. The goal was to revive it as not only a functioning library, but also an educational experience highlighting the library’s past. Erma Brooks came on as the Dunbar Historical Library VISTA in July 2017 and has been passionate about reviving the library to its fullest potential.
Erma was integral in making community connections that have helped create awareness of the library’s restoration and reopening. She has spoken to “anyone who would listen” at various spots around San Angelo. As a result, she has been invited to speak at the local NAACP chapter meetings, local churches, women’s groups, and local book clubs. Her outreach strategy has resulted in over $4,500 in total donations many of which were historical artifacts that are now proudly on display at the library. She also has inspired buy-in from the community that has led 37 people to volunteer their time and talents to the library.
The Dunbar Library, although it has been open less than a year, has received a lot of local recognition. The library has so far received over 850 visitors, some of which were even from other states. The library was also recognized as the Wayne Williams Library Project of the Year for 2018 by the Texas Library Association. As the Dunbar Library VISTA, Erma has also organized several educational events to take place at the library. One of which, the Blackshear Alumni Roundtable (where local African Americans who used the Dunbar Library during segregation will meet to discuss their memories of segregation while being filmed), recently took place. She is also hopeful that next school year teachers will use the library as a field trip destination.