The arctic freeze of February 2021 will be remembered as a time with not only cold temperatures unseen in in the Rio Grande Valley since the 1980s but also as the time darkness descended upon Texas. Massive blackouts throughout the State due to the freezing temperatures left the City of Edinburg, like the rest of the state, with most of its residents in the dark and without heat. Students were left without school and many found their homes unbearably cold, especially when used to 75-degree weather this time of year.
The City of Edinburg City Manager quickly turned to the City’s public library, the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library, for assistance. Library Director, Letty Leija, knowing the staff’s willingness to serve their community quickly agreed to open a 24-Hour Warming Center. The Library Meeting Room as well as a portion of the Children’s area were converted into a temporary shelter with the help of the City’s Fire Department and the Library quickly opened its doors to those who needed a warm place to be and where individuals and families could stay until power was restored at their homes.
Residents had access to the Library’s WiFi and computers and were encouraged to charge their electronic devices. City officials asked residents to bring their own bedding, medication, and food. To ensure the safety of all, residents were screened, and temperatures were checked at the door and all social distancing guidelines were strictly enforced and face coverings were required to be worn. Police and Fire Dept. personnel were always also present for any emergency situation.
Over 220 residents without electricity turned to the Library’s 24-Hour Warming Center to warm up and charge their cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices or stayed through the night.
To make the space as normal as possible, children were given free books to read and had the opportunity to enjoy movies and complimentary snacks.
The 24-Hour Warming Center was also a great opportunity for the Library staff to reconnect with the community that up to this point due to Covid-19, they had provided services to through virtual programming and curbside service. Despite the cold, in the City of Edinburg, February 2021 will also be remembered as the time the City joined forces to provide for their own.
While Wilson County Libraries are closed to the public, they are making medical mask frames to help with the shortage of N-95 masks. Computer lab manager, Lesa McCall, heard about a neurosurgeon and dentist team in Billings, Montana who coded 3D printed facial masks that could extend the local clinic’s resources. It is a two part job that takes about 2 hours for one complete mask. The 3D printer needs a 100mm x 100mm build platform and can use either PLA or ABS plastic. While they are closed to the public their 3D Printer has been printing non stop to help first responders in the county.
The Jennie Trent Dew Library in Goldthwaite started their Reading Therapy Dog program with the help of 2 local dogs. See the photos for a glimpse of how well loved these dogs are. Congratulations to the children of Goldthwaite and the library staff for getting this going in their community!
Beginning in 2009 with a Texas Reads Grant, West teens plan, prepare, and present story time for local children at West Public Library each summer. Two dogs from Angel Paws in Waco visited the June 12th event. Over seventy teens have volunteered in the library’s Tale Tellers program since its 2009 debut.
More than “just” a library, El Progreso Memorial Library is a civic and cultural center serving Uvalde and the surrounding area. It was formed in 1903 by a visionary group of women for self improvement, civic improvement and the establishment of a public library. This club meets monthly and continues – after 115 years – as a vital support of the library which has expanded to include an eleven county archives, museum with meeting and study rooms of various sizes for all sorts of individual and group activities and use. They were integral to raising the $5.7 million needed for construction of the current building in 2003 and contribute about one third of the annual budget each year. The Club theme for this year is Literature and Art of the Southwest. Monthly library displays are keyed to this theme as well. We remain grateful to El Progreso Club members for their vision and steadfast support.
From Mendell Morgan, Director at El Progresso Memorial Library in Uvalde.
This year for Banned Books Week, the Wichita Falls Public Library is featuring challenged books through a provocative display. Upon entering the front doors, customers are greeted by an eye-catching display window that suggests books on fire. The books represented have been wrapped in white paper with a short statement printed on the front about why the title was challenged. This display has sparked many conversations among visitors and staff alike regarding the need for protection of our Freedom to Read.
San Marcos Public Library a few activities going on for Banned Books Week. There is a photo contest, with a mugshot photo station set up, where patrons can take picture with their favorite challenged/banned book and upload it to social media for a chance to win a prize. An adult reading program, Passport to Reading, has different reading challenges each month. The challenge for this month is to read a book that has been banned or challenged. Challenged books are on display to assist patrons in selecting their book for September.
The Nellie Pederson Civic Library in Clifton is enjoying great turn out at their summer reading program events and are on pace for a record setting year for turnout! Just a couple of some of their successful programs have been Steve Alcorn who is a retired history teacher and Civil War reenactor and Kayler Campbell and her cow, Katie Bell.
Thanks for sharing with us and congrats on those numbers! Please share with us what your library is up to this summer!
Tom Green County Library System had a very successful grand opening for their new STEAM Central makerspace. Around 250 people of all ages attended and everyone responded enthusiastically. The photos really say it all.