The Lake Highlands and Hamilton Park neighborhoods are getting a transformative community gathering place with a new Forest Green Branch Library under construction. But it will take community support to make the building the dynamic, useful resource it needs to be. The library’s "wish list’’ includes $85,000 in technology, furniture and programs that the city has been unable to fund. We need your support to take the new Forest Green from good to great.
Much more than a place to borrow books.
A library is a community center and a place for learning, with language and GED classes, storytimes, and after-school homework sessions. The neighborhood library provides Internet and computer access for the unconnected. It is a place for job searches, a meeting place for community groups, and a hub for movies, newspapers, magazines, and hard-to-find materials. Libraries drive economic development through learning. Yes, libraries lend books (paper and digital). But they also build and strengthen neighborhoods. Most importantly, they excite and captivate young minds as well as old.
Lake Highlands and Hamilton Park have long had inadequate library resources, but that is changing. And with construction of a new Forest Green Branch Library, Dallas has the opportunity right now to build one of the great modern neighborhood libraries.
The new building on Greenville Avenue south of Forest Lane will replace Dallas’ smallest branch. The original Forest Green was barely over 9,000 square feet with parking for only 30 cars; the new branch, currently under construction, will be 19,026 square feet with 64 parking spaces. A tiny 570 square foot meeting room that seated only 30 is being replaced with a 1,350 square foot meeting room that seats 151. There will also be two flexible classroom spaces that can be converted into one large room that can accommodate more than 130 people for community meetings and larger gatherings. There are also plans for four additional meeting spaces designed for more intimate meetings, seating between 4-6 people.
Yet the bond package approved by voters didn’t have enough to really finish out the library so it can meet all neighborhood needs. There remains a Library 'Wish List’’ of key items and programs: furniture and equipment for digital learning and play; much needed technology; and exciting school-year and summer presenters and performers. The list includes early literacy computers, a robotic building center, a teen reading area, and basics like laptops, a wireless sound system and outdoor rubber mats for storytimes.
The Friends of the Dallas Public Library is raising money to complete the wish list and move Forest Green from good to great. The campaign will also complete the vision of Karen Blumenthal, an acclaimed journalist, author of 12 books and life-long Dallas resident who got so frustrated with inadequate library resources in Dallas she spent more than a decade working to boost library funding. She fought to get the new Forest Green built and had assembled volunteers to help raise money for the wish list when she passed away suddenly in May.
We need to finish the job--for Forest Green, for all of Lake Highlands and Hamilton Park, and for Karen. Your support will not only honor a great legacy, it will also build a legacy that changes lives for years to come.
What Forest Green Needs Now
The "Wish List" for the Forest Green Branch Library includes key items needed to turn this building into a home for the entire community that will stimulate and inspire young minds as well as old.
The money raised will be used for technology, interactive learning supplies, furniture, and programming. The equipment will help effectively teach and engage students. New furniture will create play centers, reading areas and an early literacy station. completing the wish list will make the library a more-attractive environment for kids and young adults to come study, learn, and grow. Additionally, this money will allow for a budget for programming and presentations during the school year and the summer.
More than $35,000 was donated to the Friends of the Dallas Public Library in Karen Blumenthal’s memory, and it has already been applied to the top priorities on the Forest Green wish list. Another $50,000 remains to be raised to meet the library’s technological and resource needs. Any amount will make a difference.
The city is investing in our community by building a bigger, more inclusive library. But with additional support, it can become a true educational center of the community. Your help now will build our neighborhood for years to come.
To make a donation, follow this link. If you prefer to donate by phone, please call our office at 214-670-1458. By mail, send a check payable to the Friends of the Dallas Public Library with “Forest Green” in the notes section to Friends of the Dallas Public Library, 1515 Young Street, 7th Floor, Dallas, TX 75201.
Karen Blumenthal was a lifelong lover of words, an award-winning journalist and author of nonfiction books for young adults, and a champion of the Dallas Public Library.
Frustrated by the library’s budget cuts after the 2008 recession, Karen joined the board of Friends of the Dallas Public Library and organized a campaign to pressure City Council to restore the library’s budget.
Her efforts with others at Friends of the Dallas Public Library resulted in millions of dollars in additional funds, enabling longer operating hours and stronger collections.
Karen lived in Lake Highlands for more than 25 years and was a driving force behind the new Forest Green branch. Her relentless advocacy ensured that the new Forest Green building would be included in the 2017 bond package and prioritized by the city. At the ground-breaking ceremony, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough said, “We don’t name libraries in Dallas, but this one should be named for Karen Blumenthal.”
Karen passed away suddenly in May 2020 at the age of 61. If she were still with us, we know that she would be working hard to equip the new Forest Green with the best materials, technology, and programs in Dallas. In honor of Karen’s advocacy and her passion for books for young readers, the Dallas Library also plans to name the new library’s children’s section in her honor.