Long time champion of the Westbank Libraries, Jim Bannerot, has retired from the library district’s Board of Trustees after 27 years of service. Jim began his involvement with the library back in 1989, moving boxes of books from the library’s temporary location in the Texas Commerce Bank to its first real home across from Westlake High School. Jim then joined the Board, where he has served almost continuously since 1990, and as its President from 1998-2010.
Our library has come a long way in all that time, and Jim had a critical role in its development. He chaired many committees, including organizing multiple annual 5K Halloween runs to benefit the library before we had dedicated sales tax funding. This involved engaging sponsors, organizing volunteers, creating publicity, and coordinating the event with other civic entities.
When legislation was passed in 1997 allowing for the creation of library districts in Texas, Jim guided the Board through the petition and community election process, where citizens voted overwhelmingly to approve a library district for the Westbank community. He then led the library through the maze of regulations required to shift its finances and policies in order to meet requirements as a governmental entity.
Under Jim’s presidency, the library expanded our Westbank location to triple its size in 2000, and then built the Laura’s Library branch in 2009. It was through Jim’s relationship with TRI’s Scott Thornton that the library was able to secure the amazing piece of land on which Laura’s Library sits.
Jim has attended over 300 meetings for the library, graciously providing legal expertise, preparing bylaws and resolutions, and researching governance issues. He has helped to mediate many difficult situations, and he remained unflappable and in good humor no matter how impossible a crisis seemed to be.
Former Library Director Beth Fox referred to Jim as the library’s rock for his decades of support. “Jim organized fun runs, arm-twisted fellow Rotarians into major library moves, showed up for dozens of other fundraisers, and provided hours of free legal advice. Jim has a wicked sense of humor, a bedrock sense of honor, and has always been a very special member of the community.”
Besides his invaluable work for the library, Jim has also donated his time in support of education. He has mentored and recruited other mentors for struggling students, raised funds for student challenge courses, cooked hamburgers and baked cookies for school carnivals, served as a school district election judge, coached high school mock trials, organized students to create and run a high school teen court, and coached swimming, softball, basketball, and soccer. He has also done pro bono work for Volunteer Legal Services and has taught Sunday school.
Jim will be missed by all of us at the library. In gratitude for his incredible service to the library, the adult wing of Westbank Library will be named in his honor.
The Board has appointed long-time library volunteer Todd Crickmer to complete Jim’s term on the Board.