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Arts & Culture

At The Heart Of Canyon Lake, A Library For The Senses

With an observatory and a butterfly garden, the Tye Preston Memorial Library is much more than your regular reading room. 

“If you have a garden, and a library, you have everything you need.”

-Cicero, Roman politician and philosopher in ‘The Letters to His Friends’

The ancient Greeks clearly had their priorities right, if you have a garden and a library, you’re doing pretty well, and if you add an observatory into that mix, you’re on a roll.

I was at recently at Canyon Lake’s Tye Preston Memorial Library and I’ve got to say, I was just charmed by the place. To get the lowdown on the library, I spoke with Library Director Roxana Deane. “It was started by a women’s group here in Canyon Lake. Then, when it outgrew a little building, we got money and land from Harry Preston, who was the banker in town,” she explains. “That’s when we said we’d always keep the name Tye Preston; that was his mother.”

The 18,000 square foot library was built four years ago, on six hilltop acres just east of Canyon Lake’s dam. “We have room to have an observatory, a butterfly garden,” says Deane. You heard right — the Tye Preston Memorial Library has an observatory and a butterfly garden. The director says the observatory, expectedly, delights people of all ages. “The 5-year-old looks through and sees Jupiter and goes ‘wow’ and the grandmother looks through the scope and sees Jupiter and goes ‘wow’,” she says, with a smile.

I told her I'd just come in from her butterfly garden and I was saying “wow!” She laughs and urges me to stay a while. “The monarchs (butterflies) are coming through a little later today.”

I stuck around long enough have hundreds of monarchs fluttering all around me. It was amazing. She gives me the backstory on the garden. "The Lindheimer Chapter of the Master Naturalists built the garden, and now the Master Naturalists of Comal County take care of it," she says. All the landscaping around the library is native, and they do minimal watering. “We have a 5,600 gallon catchment system for the water,” says Deane.

The healthy, beautiful landscape needs very little additional water, and the water it gets is gathered off the roof during the rains. Deane explains the curiously named “Reader Weeders.” “They just show up and weed, and take care of every plot of land,” she says, referring to a little known tribe of loosely organized library loving groups of people, who show up at various libraries around the country to, well, weed.

She adds that the library even has a resident Roadrunner. “His name is Read and he likes to interrupt meetings by pecking on the back window.”

All a library has to be is a place where people can get books. Deane says there’s a lot more than that at the Tye Preston. “It’s a lot more than just a library. It really is the community center for Canyon Lake.” As a library, since the concept was first established, were always intended to be.

Here's video of the Butterfly Garden.