The city of San Antonio has figured out a way to save its taxpayers millions of dollars by establishing a dual-purpose library branch inside the soon-to-be completed Reagan High School.

Local residents will have full access to the 12,00 square-foot library, which is to be housed inside the school’s main academic building. Students will enter the facility from the main hallway, while the general public will gain access through a separate exterior entrance.

Because the facility is located in an affluent part of town, security is not expected to be an issue for the school, said North East Independent School District spokesman Victor Garcia.

The shared library will be a first for San Antonio, and supporters say it will be the first of its kind in Texas.

The city and North East School District worked together to devise the plan, which officials say will benefit both the schools and the public at large.

The school district, which is spending close to $30 million to build Reagan High School–its first new high school in a quarter-century–will be supplied with book stacks for the library. The city will also subsidize some operating costs for the facility, including electric service.

Though the district will make staffing decisions for the library, the city will write the paychecks.

The venture works for both sides, however, because the city will not have to put up the millions of dollars it would take to construct a stand-alone library.

San Antonio City Councilman Tim Bannwolf, who originally proposed the idea as a cost-saving initiative, said the local government would have spent upwards of $3.5 million to build a much-needed traditional city library in this part of town. The only current option for local residents is a city-run book mobile.

“In many ways, it will be more than the average city library,” Bannwolf said, referring to residents’ access to amenities–such as a state-of-the-art computer lab–which are not available at other city libraries.

Garcia said the plan grows out of a program already in place in the North East School District in which computer labs in three district schools are used to teach classes to the general public on weekends.

If the dual-purpose library is successful, officials could look to repeat the effort elsewhere in the district.

North East Independent School District