Tuesday, January 10, 2017


2016 - A Year in Review

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chambers County Library System – November, 2016

The Texas State Library provides to Chambers County a large group of electronic databases for use by the public.  The cost for these databases, (for which we pay $815.76 per year), would cost $113,677.01 if we were to purchase them individually.  The combined bargaining power that the State Library uses to negotiate this service for public libraries, colleges, and medical libraries of Texas is of great value to us; in the State’s fiscal year, which ended on August 31, the databases were accessed by Chambers County residents a total of 5,399 times.  Instructions on how to use these databases are available at the libraries; the databases can be used at home or in places of business with the proper login and password, which are given to any library cardholder in good standing.  
Several staff members completed continuing education webinars during the month of November.  The library strives to keep on top of the latest library trends and topics by attending online and face to face meetings.  Children’s Librarian Michelle Mims traveled to Richmond, Texas to attend a workshop on incorporating STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) in Preschool Storytime.  Popular workshop presenter Kim Lehman inspired the group with ideas and hands on activities to take back to their libraries and schools.  Other staff members who weren’t able to attend will have a chance to view the archived webinar on the topic.  Storytime and Babygarten programs continue to take place weekly.  The little ones and their parents/caregivers enjoy weekly themed stories, songs, crafts and activities.

Teens from Anahuac and Mont Belvieu traveled to the local theater to see the latest book to movie release based on the popular Harry Potter spinoff series by J.K. Rowling.  The groups enjoyed hanging out with each other and talking about the movie afterwards. 

The tween crowd at Winnie enjoyed a Diary of a Wimpy Kid party on the 3rd.  Kids enjoyed games based on the book series, and had some green screen fun taking pictures. 

Homeschool programs were held at all Chambers County Library System branches during the month of November.  The Anahuac branch held a homeschool craft club, while Winnie and Mont Belvieu did their monthly “Homeschool Explorers” program. 

The adults also had several programs to take part in during November.  Anahuac held their monthly craft program along with a special six part t-shirt quilting course.  Winnie held another adult coloring program on the 8th, and Mont Belvieu held an e-couponing class, and also participated in a “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month) which was live streamed from California.  NaNoWriMo is held annually to allow participants time to write towards the goal of a 50,000-word novel within the month of November. 

The Library Advisory Board met on the 8th to discuss any proposed policy changes.  Members meet quarterly at the Chambers County Library in Anahuac.  Long time board member Marlin Moore stepped down after 9 years of service and was presented with a plaque recognizing him for his leadership, and diligent efforts on behalf of Chambers County residents.  To fill his expired term, Heather Puppa of Mont Belvieu will begin serving with the board in February. 

Library Board Members: Sarah Kathan, Sammy Little, Marlin Moore, and Susie Davis.   Notpictured are: Rhonda LeBlanc and Carolyn Caldwell

As the fiscal year winds down, the library begins to receive calls from vendors to schedule meetings to share their latest books and products.   We’ve already started the process of purchasing books for 2017.  These books won’t be delivered until after January 1, and will then go through the cataloging and processing steps before they reach the branches. 

The library recently purchased Library Aware, a marketing software for libraries.  This allows us to connect with readers and keep them engaged using templates and tools to create flyers, bookmarks, and more for promoting books and resources throughout the library.  We’re looking forward to implementing this in early 2017.

Until next month!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


September @ the Library!

This was our busiest September to date at the Chambers County Library System with over 20,000 items circulated.

September began with programs catered to our tiniest patrons.  Storytime and Babygarten started the week of September 6th at all the libraries with crowds that didn’t disappoint.  Our traditional storytime programs feature songs, stories, crafts and activities for the 6 and under crowd, while our newest program Babygarten, focuses on music, rhymes, and developmental skills for babies up to 24 months.  Babygarten has proven to be a huge success, and the children’s staff is to be commended for the fantastic job they have done planning and implementing programs for each of these age groups.  Newest children’s staff member Jinnie McClennan and Teen Programmer Shelby Fielding attended a Transforming Preschool Storytime workshop where they learned some tips on early literacy skills and engaging children with stories. 

On the 19th we held our annual Summer Reading planning meeting. This meeting (which used to be held in February) is our first attempt to strategize and brainstorm ideas for the upcoming summer reading program. Key staff from all the branches attended and shared ideas for programs, received important deadline dates, and talked about new ideas that we can incorporate for the next year.

Zydeco dance classes were back by popular demand at Anahuac on the 8th.  Staff member LaShebia Haskin held a Basic Zydeco dance class to get Anahuac residents prepared for Gatorfest.  The meeting room was packed with people learning the basic twists and turns.  Another class is scheduled for November. 

Homeschool programs are now offered at each branch in the system.  Anahuac’s monthly craft club allows for students of all ages to get creative with unique crafts.  Winnie and Mont Belvieu hold a monthly geography program featuring a specific country each month.  Fun facts and activities are shared with the group as they travel to different countries each month.  Mont Belvieu also held a Homeschool Orientation for anyone interested in learning more about library resources available to the public.  Providing programs for homeschoolers has proven to give families in the area different opportunities in their day-to-day learning.   Nothing we do is curriculum based, but done to supplement the home education done by parents.  Our job as librarians is to provide the space, the resources, and promote library services to all groups that come in the library.  

County Librarian Valerie Jensen taught a book mending class for staff members assigned to repair books.  There are several specialized techniques for repairing books with torn pages, broken spines, and even tattered corners.  Special supplies are ordered yearly so that we can prolong the life of some of our most popular books. 

The Chambers County Library in Anahuac and Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie held Hispanic Heritage Month programs for the public, which is traditionally celebrated September 15-October 15.  Traditional foods, crafts, and music were enjoyed, while the staff presented facts about the five Latin American countries that celebrate their independence each year.  Both programs had packed rooms and it was great to see patrons come together and be educated on heritage and culture. 

September 25 - October 1 was Banned Books Week for libraries across the nation.  Banned Books Week was celebrated, so to speak, at all three libraries, with very interesting, and different, displays at each site. The displays tended to generate discussion by the patrons with the staff, some of it not quite what we might have expected!  But that, of course, is part of the whole effort behind Banned Books Week – to get people talking about censorship, the books that have been challenged, and to get them thinking about their own opinions of the same.

Several staff members from Anahuac set up at Gatorfest to represent the library in the educational tent. Every year we try to have a presence at the local festivals or other outreach opportunities. It’s important for the public to see our faces outside the library!

In personnel news, Kellee Traylor joins the CCLS team at the Mont Belvieu location.  Kellee will be providing front desk relief as well as assisting with programs as needed.  Kellee’s first day was on the 28th so stop by and say hi!

In historical news, A. Lynette Parsons was hired as a part-time employee to help take on the task of digitizing and cataloging historical items from the museum and library.  The library acts as a liaison to the Historical Commission and with the museum temporarily closed, this allows us to bring some order to the items inside the building so that the public can have access to viewing images, artifacts, and documents that have been hidden away for many years.  

Until next month!

Babygarten at Anahuac

Banned Books display at Mont Belvieu

Kids enjoyed the library booth at Gatorfest!

Storytime at Winnie with Mrs. Yolie

Storytime at Mont Belvieu with special guest Lori Kaiser

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chambers County Library System – August, 2016

Summer Reading might be over, but the staff didn’t have much of a break before fall program planning began.  Even with our usual movie days and book club meetings, we managed to work in a good bit of activity.  With the school year beginning, our change-over from summer visitors to students was almost unnoticed.  Add to that a board meeting, fundraising events, and interviews for after-school help, and you have a busy month!

To start the month, County Librarian Valerie Jensen and Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass attended budget hearings for the library.  With the library’s 2017 budget already submitted, this hearing allowed us the opportunity to talk in more detail about our requests.  Any questions the commissioner or judge might have, we could answer at that time.  We won’t know the outcome until later next month.  Until then we keep our fingers crossed!

On the 4th, the Friends of the Chambers County Library System held a fundraiser at Panera Bread in Baytown.  Proceeds from sales would go back to the Friends as long as a flyer was presented at the time of purchase.  A small profit was raised, and the money will go towards their ongoing efforts to raise money for programs and other events.  A second fundraiser was held at Mont Belvieu the week of the 15th.  Scholastic Book Fairs have traditionally been held at school libraries, but the Friends decided to sponsor a fair at the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library.  With the sales totaling $1800, that gave the Friends a profit of $400. 

Back-to-School programs are always a huge deal at the libraries, and this year was no exception.  Anahuac held a water-themed program with inflatables donated by All Summer Long in Mont Belvieu.  Sno-cones were served by Friends volunteers, and kids enjoyed kiddie kickball, hydro blasters, waterslides, and more.  The Anahuac Volunteer Fire Department was on hand to cool down the kids, and representatives with the Texas Children’s Health Plan passed out t-shirts and other goodies.  Winnie held a Black Light Bash with games in the dark, refreshments, dancing, and more!  Staff member Mary Abshire had black light coloring for the adults, which turned out to be a big hit!  Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge came to Mont Belvieu for their back-to-school program.  Stephanie Martinez was on hand to talk about animals and do a fun craft with the kids. 

On the 9th, the Library Advisory Board met for its quarterly meeting.  A few items were up for discussion this month and board members are always eager to voice their concern and feedback on library policies.  During a member’s term on the board, they become very familiar with the fundamentals of the library. 

GED prep classes are back in session at Anahuac and Winnie.  Registration started the week of the 15th.  Classes are held in Anahuac on Monday and Wednesday, 6-9pm and at Winnie on Tuesdays, 5-7pm.  For information on registration, please contact your local branch. 

On the 17th, the staff at the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch Library held a “Dog Pawty” for patrons and their 4-legged friends.  Even with the rain that day, there were dogs in costume, a therapy dog named Baxter, a dog photoshoot, and doggy bag treats.  Makenna Castaneda, the handler for Baxter, was on hand to supervise the thirty-minute reading sessions with kids who had registered.  Baxter was very well behaved and attentive to all the kids who read. 

Master Gardener’s A. Lynette Parsons presented a program at Mont Belvieu on the 18th.  The topic was “Get the dirt on dirt”, with tips on soil preparation for fall planting.

And finally, the Children’s programmers met to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming storytime season.  This year also begins Babygarten, an infant-24 month program for the tiniest of patrons.  Babygarten is held at each branch along with traditional storytimes for the preschool ages.  Our newest kid staffer is Jinnie McLennan from Mont Belvieu, and she was able to soak up some knowledge from our seasoned storytime pros from Anahuac and Winnie.  The ladies enjoyed sharing ideas in their effort to provide quality kids programs throughout the school year. 

Until next month!

Baxter the therapy dog

Back to School splash at Anahuac

Friends members Jean Abshier Forrest and Elaine Byrd

Miss Jinnie at storytime in Mont Belvieu

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chambers County Library System – July, 2016

Summer Reading Snapshot!

Minutes read:  339,225
Children’s enrollment – up 12%
Teen enrollment – up 12%
Total circulation June/July – 56,751

7761 people attended programs at the Chambers County Library System 
in June and July

Another Summer Reading Program is in the books!  Over 150 thank you letters will soon go out to all the businesses, individuals, and groups who supported our program this year.  During our six week Summer Reading event we held 72 programs system wide.  Another record for us!

Coordinating and planning our summer program starts each year in October.  We meet as a group early enough to brainstorm ideas and get a jump on the direction we want to go.  We talk about program ideas, themes, rules, sponsors, supplies, and much more.  The staff turns in their details to the administrative side over the next several months.  This gives them time to plan with a set schedule, and once summer arrives, the bulk of the hard work has been done.  Once Kickoff Week arrives, we’re ready to go.  We’re already setting a date for the 2017 planning meeting.  It’s never ending around here!

Each summer we are given extra help thanks to the County Commissioners.  Nine high school and college students were employed at the library system this summer.  They provided much needed help at programs, and spent the majority of their time putting up thousands of returned books!  We appreciate the court providing us with this extra help. 

At Commissioners’ Court on the 12th, Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass recognized Joseph Redou with NRG.  NRG has been the main sponsor for the Summer Reading program for the past several years.  Their contribution allows the library system to continue to provide quality programs to the public.

In July we welcomed a new staff member at the Chambers County Library in Anahuac.  Sue Hawthorne joins the team and will be responsible for providing much needed front desk help.  Sue comes to us from Anahuac Middle School where she was responsible for overseeing the library there. 

Finally, the finishing touches for the first phase of renovations at Anahuac have been completed.  Public computers have been relocated, along with moving some shelving around to allow more open space for the public.

Until next month!
Chad Chesmark with readers at Anahuac!

New staff member Sue Hawthorne having fun at the Summer Reading Party

Children's Librarian Michelle Mims ready to serve cupcakes!

Teen Summer Reading Party at Winnie!

Mont Belvieu staff with magician, James Wand!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chambers County Library System – June, 2016

Summer Reading is in full force at the Chambers County Library System!   Our first week is considered “Kickoff Week” where the focus is aimed at registering kids and teens for Summer Reading.  Without a doubt, it was a success with over 1,000 kids joining during week one – a 10% increase from 2015.  Kickoff Week featured several elected officials and special guests who joined the fun passing out sno-cones, popcorn, and balloons, and had the chance to mingle with kids and their parents.  Other activities during kickoff week included hot dogs with the Sheriff, Deputy Dan and the K9 unit, Spirit day with the local school mascots and football players, Zoofari, and even helicopters!  

The weeks that followed included programs with Toro, the mascot for the Houston Texans, followed by a magic show with Ronald McDonald. 

Teen enrollment was also up with right at 200 teens participating.  And we can’t forget our adults who have really been hitting the books this year!  Each week the branches hold a weekly drawing for teens and adults who turn in their completed raffle bookmarks with a chance to win some prizes donated by local businesses.  Fun and unique programs for the adults included making your own hula hoop, cardio class, walking programs, and nutrition classes. 
To kick off summer reading for teens, a county-wide event was held on the 10th at White’s Park.  This collaborative effort of the library system’s young adult programmers consisted of dodgeball, water wars, relay races, and other fun games.  Over 30 teens turned out for the event.  It was great to see teens from across the county come together for some good competition! 

In 2015, we decided to change the direction of our program to focus on getting the community more involved in their library.  One of the ways we did that was by offering a bigger variety of programs for the teens and adults.   We also brought back the game boards for the kids.  This let them have some extra responsibility by coloring in spaces each day they read for 20 minutes, and offering incentives along the way.  This trend has continued to prove successful and popular with our public. 

On the 10th, the Friends of the Chambers County Library System held a special meeting to discuss ongoing fundraising ideas.  An upcoming event they have planned is at the Panera Bread  in Baytown.  On Thursday, August 4th between 4pm and 8pm, a percentage of the proceeds will go towards the Friends.  Our Friends are the major underwriters for programs like Summer Reading.  You must present a flyer when you go, so pick one up at any of the libraries or print one from our website www.chambers.lib.tx.us

Local author Tammy Hale held a book signing on the 18th.  She was on hand to autograph and sell her debut book, The Burning Kiss.  Tammy is an Anahuac native and currently offers her book through Amazon.
We rounded out June with 285 new patron cards and 23,358 people walking through our doors.  It’s a busy time at the library and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 
Until next month!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Chambers County Library System – May, 2016

Over 11,000 people visited the county libraries in May.  A 12% increase from last year.  Typically, we’d say May is our slow month, but with the excitement of summer reading, and the new Sam and Carmena Goss traffic increasing, we’re quickly seeing Chambers County residents use all of the libraries in the county more than before. 

Children’s story hours went on hiatus the week of May 2 while we printed and distributed over 5,000 flyers to the schools about our scheduled events for June and July.  We do a huge percentage of our system’s annual circulation during this period, as the children pour in to our programs and pick out books to fill their summer hours.  Our corporate sponsors increased by 13% this year showing the continued growing support from the community.  This year our plans include kangaroos, sno-cones, magic, movies, tie dye, videogames, hula hooping, among other scheduled programs.   We’re looking forward to another fun and successful summer!

GED classes will continue this summer every Monday and Wednesday at 6pm in Anahuac.  Classes begin June 6.  ESL classes ended for the summer and will resume in the fall with their regular Tuesday and Thursday schedule. 

May is the time of year we prepare budget packets for the upcoming budget year.  Each year, we make notes on items or services we would like to add for the citizens of the county.  This year, we’re asking for additional online services, an increase for some capital projects, and additional money in our materials budget.  We always ask for items we need in order to maintain our level of service our patrons have grown used to. 

In programming news, County Librarian Valerie Jensen taught an Introduction to Cheese-making class to the Anahuac book club group on the 10th.  Samples were given, and each person made their own mozzarella cheese during class. 

The staff at the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch was overrun with tours from the local school.  Eager teachers and their kiddos scheduled tours throughout the month to learn the lay-out of the new library.  The kids had the chance to hear about summer reading, see the Children’s Activity Room, and hear about all the resources available to them throughout their school year. 

The staff at Anahuac held several craft programs for adults and kids.  Adult craft club continues to be a standing room only program.  It’s definitely the place to be in town on the 2nd Wednesday of the month!  The last sewing session with Mrs. Brown was held on the 25th.  Her classes will continue in the fall.  Homeschool students were also treated to a summer craft on the 18th.  The homeschool clientele continues to grow, and making them aware of the resources we have in our library system is of prime importance. 

Anahuac teens had a “Just Dance” program on the 5th.  The newest version of the game was generously purchased by some of our Friends members.  Teens at Mont Belvieu enjoyed a game day with board games and snacks.  

Until next month!

Cheese-making with Valerie Jensen

Children's Librarian Jinnie McLennan at Mont Belvieu

Craft club at Anahuac

Tours with Barbers Hill ISD kids with Kara DeLaughter

Last storytime at Winnie

Sewing 101 with Mrs. Brown

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