I have a local component library that I use in most designs. I've been adding this to the library list in Eschema for each new design because I can't figure out how to add this permanently via preferences or something. Is creating a template the right/only way to make this permanent, or is there a better solution. Thanks.
The libraries are populated by the default template, so you would need to adjust that to have additional libraries added by default.
Personally, I find Chris Pavlina's solution to be the cleanest: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/cpavlina/kicad-schlib/master/create_project.sh
This creates a new directory with a shallow copy of footprints and libraries and maps the config files appropriately. I use a fork of this to maintain my own libraries and push back to GitHub any changes, so my next project inherits the updates.