Library System – September, 2014
The annual Texas Gatorfest always brings thousands of people
to beautiful Chambers County. It’s a
time when the local folks can proudly promote their community, and the library
loves to join in and be a part of this yearly festival. Anahuac staff members Aquilia De la Cruz,
LaShebia Haskin, and Michelle Mims had a booth in the Alligator Educational
tent Saturday and Sunday. These ladies
worked hard preparing flyers and handouts to promote the library and its
services to not only the locals, but also letting the “out-of-towners” see what
great library service is all about. Each
year we receive such great comments about the library, and people who live
hundreds of miles away always mention that they love their local library. It’s great to hear how much libraries mean to
people from all over the area.
September 21-27 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.
County Librarian Valerie Jensen and Assistant County
Librarian Annie Vass were busy this month attending webinars for a state funded
grant the library received for iPads to assist with the after-school tutoring
sessions at Anahuac. We’re required to
report to the state library each quarter with performance and financial
updates. We’re excited to see the
tutorials get started back up.
Annie and I, along with Branch Librarian Missy Parham
attended a couple of meetings for the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch
Library. We’re already picking out
furniture, carpet, and fabric. The
design process is going very well, and we can’t wait until we break ground
later this year (or early next).
On September 15th
, we received our annual
Accreditation letter. Libraries in the
state of Texas must adhere to certain personnel, finance, technology, and
service standards in order to be an accredited library. By receiving this recognition, it shows that
the library has proven its value and importance to the community. Chambers County Library System prides itself
on exemplary standards, according to the Texas State Library, proving we go
above and beyond to stay current in library trends.
Staff member, Shelby Fielding organized a Fall Gardening
program on the 24th
. A packed
house attended to hear from local master gardeners. Presenters brought butterflies in various
stages, talked about local plants to attract butterflies, and were on hand to
answer gardening questions from the group.
Our wonderful Friends of the library group decided they wanted
to award the branches with a free lunch to say “thank you” for all the hard
work during Summer Reading. Members of
the Executive Board delivered sandwiches, chips, drinks, and dessert for the
entire staff to enjoy. The Friends make
Summer Reading possible, and without their
support we wouldn’t be able to provide such great programs for our
Kids enjoy the snapping alligator at Gatorfest!
Kids enjoy the Homeschool Science program at Mont Belvieu
Library System – August, 2014
August started off with good news for the library
system. County Librarian Valerie Jensen,
and Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass were rewarded for their grant writing
efforts by receiving a state funded grant for 10 iPads to be used primarily for
the after school tutoring sessions at Anahuac.
The tutoring sessions are part of a partnership with United Way of
Greater Baytown and Chambers County, along with the Chambers County Sheriff’s
Department and Anahuac ISD. Tutorial
sessions began last school year and ended with great results, and we anticipate
more student involvement this year. The
Anahuac branch is always looking for volunteer tutors, so contact them
Each year Commissioners’ Court sponsors the “summer helper”
program. This year, an exceptional group
of student workers were hired at each of the libraries. We hated to see them go, but their time was
well spent providing the library with assistance at programs, and performing a
wide variety of tasks that our regular staff can’t get to during the year. The salaries provided to these young people
help them a great deal as they get ready for college, or just to save money for
things they need. For many of these
young students, this is their first job and we like to think we leave a good impression
on them as they jump into the working world.
Over the last several weeks we’ve had some website problems
due to a server upgrade that left us without an online presence. We seem to be functioning again, thanks to
our local website guru, Kathy Fielding who was able to get us back up and
Several staff members took advantage of the CPR training
provided by the County. It’s very
important that each staff member be properly trained since we deal so heavily
with the public. By the end of
September, all library staff will be updated in their certifications.
On the 28th, the Children’s Librarians met at
Anahuac for their yearly meeting to brainstorm ideas, talk about different storytime
strategies, and see all the resources available to them for the little
ones. Staff members, Michelle Mims,
Yolie Belt, Jennifer Kellum, Missy Parham, and newest staff member Krystine
Gonzales were all in attendance. Krystine
joins the West Chambers Branch at Mont Belvieu as the new Children’s Librarian.
Missy Parham, the current Branch
Librarian/Children’s Librarian has been over the kids program for the past
several years. She’s decided to hang up
that hat and concentrate more on the duties of running a busy branch. Of course, she’ll still be around to visit
with the little ones each week at storytime!
We welcome Krystine to the gang, and know she’ll do a great job!
In programming news, each branch held a “Back to School
Bash” during August. Anahuac had the
local dentist, Dr. Kevin King, Sheriff Hawthorne, and Deputy Dan to visit with
the kids and pose for pictures. Games
and snacks were served. Winnie held
their bash at the community building with giant games as the theme. Oversized classic games such as Chutes and
Ladders, and Perfection were on hand for kids to play. There were also donated back to school items
from local businesses raffled to those in attendance. Mont Belvieu held a Back to Homeschool Bash
for the parents to learn about the resources offered to them and their
children. A Little Chef’s Back to School
Cooking Class also took place at Mont Belvieu for the little ones under
Ongoing meetings for the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial
Branch Library took place in August. We
met with shelving contractors, and the county’s Technology department to start
working on some very important details before construction can start.
Patron Bobbie Zigler enjoys one of the many public computers
Deputy Dan and Dr. Kevin King at Anahuac's Back to School Bash
Mike Kubik and his granddaughter enjoy visiting the library!
Library System – July, 2014
enrollment – up 9%
attendance (kids) – up 20%
attendance (teens) – up 4%
circulation – up 29%
items checked out during July, a 35% increase from 2013.
Which county boasts the biggest bookworms? After this year, we would definitely have to
say Chambers County! 2014 was our
biggest Summer Reading in the library’s history, and we’ve got the tired staff
to prove it! The week of July 21st
ended the 6-week summer with science and magic shows for the little ones; dodge
ball, movies, and crafts for the teens; and wine-making and a painting class
for the adults. To say it’s been a busy
summer is an understatement. But we love
it that way.
A special thanks to our sponsors who donated their time,
money, and coupons for the Summer Reading Program. Without their
contributions we would not be able to provide the quality programs we offer
each year. A big thank you to the Friends of the Chambers County Library
System for being the major underwriters for the program, and also to NRG, LLC
for being this year’s corporate sponsor.
The Friends of the Chambers County Library System found
time to hold a book sale at Mont Belvieu during party week. With the amount of walk-in traffic we get
during the final week of summer reading, the $1,000 made in 3 days was worth
Chambers County Library in Anahuac continued to have
very well attended GED and ESL classes.
This is the first year we’ve been able to continue classes during the
summer, and it’s because of the grant funding received from the Anahuac
Municipal Development District.
This year, County Librarian Valerie Jensen chose to
offer some adult programs during summer that aren’t typically considered your
“traditional” library programs. It’s
important not to lose sight of our adult population, and with more and more
libraries focusing on adult enrichment programs, summer was the perfect
opportunity to give it a shot. Three
programs were held at Anahuac this year beginning with Bayou City Paranormal
presenting their findings of the Chamber Home and Dr. Schilling’s office. Next we held a Wine-Making program with a
special guest speaker from Nederland, Jim Catalina. And finally we held a Painting with a Twist
program where participants got to paint and take home a “Neon Heron”
masterpiece. All the programs were well
attended with comments for more. I’m
hoping in the near future we continue these types of programs not only at
Anahuac, but system-wide.
Other programs ongoing were book club and movie days –
there wasn’t a day that the libraries weren’t hopping!
County Librarian, Valerie Jensen and Assistant County
Librarian, Annie Vass continue working closely with the new library working
group for the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library. A meeting was held on the 28th to
discuss the next stage of design and included Branch Librarian Missy Parham at
the meeting. Renderings of the outside
and inside design were shown to the group.
It’s such an exciting time seeing drawings and floor plans slowly take
July is the time 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 looking long term at capital
improvements and personnel. We’re also
asking for an increase in our materials budget to keep up with increasing costs
of books, eBooks, audio/visual materials, and other items.
Until next month!
Library System – April, 2014
April started off with good tidings towards the library with
the award of a grant from Entergy.
Assistant County Librarian, Annie Vass wrote a grant to purchase EMT
training DVDs to add to the library’s existing collection of Fire Training,
Vehicle Extrication, and Hazmat training DVDs.
These materials are available for area Emergency Responder groups for
checkout from your local library. We
appreciate the support from Entergy, and Annie’s hard work in putting the grant
Annie also had the opportunity to attend the annual State
Library conference this year in San Antonio.
As a first time attendee, Annie spent the week attending programs
related to public libraries, saw the latest and greatest books/technology/furniture/services
in the exhibit hall, and enjoyed getting information she could bring back to
the staff. It’s always great to send staff to these
conferences to inspire the rest of the gang with new ideas.
April 1 may be April Fool’s Day, but in Chambers County
Library System’s terms, it’s the day for the local version of the International
Edible Book Festival! In our 8th
year, this Friends’ sponsored program allows people to enter edible items that
had some connection to books, and which were, in the end, edible. This year we had entries from Harry Potter,
Magic Eye, and several kids’ books. We
have such fun with these events, and the public enjoys it too. In conjunction with the edibles, the staff at
Anahuac held a 3 day book sale the rest of the week. Book sales are always well attended and a
local attraction at all the branches when we have them. Proceeds go towards library programs and
events for the community.
The Friends of the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge donated
3 copies of their highly anticipated book, A
Year in the life of our refuge.
books will be placed at each branch with a plaque acknowledging the
donation. We appreciate the continued
support from the refuge.
Ongoing after-school tutorials at Anahuac continue to
thrive. Kids were treated with some
special tutors in April. Ariele
Brownfield and Caitlin Armstrong with ONEOK in Mont Belvieu were excited to
show their support of the program by offering some math help to the kids. The students had a great time learning from
the ladies, and left with smiles on their faces eager to know when they would
be back. It’s wonderful to have such
widespread support for this program.
On the 23rd
, we welcomed a new addition at
Winnie. Jennifer Kellum started as a
Library Technician to assist with front desk work and coverage as Winnie
continues to grow both in circulation and program attendance. She’s jumped in and become a quick learner
and we welcome her to the staff.
In program news, along with the usual movie nights, computer
classes, craft programs, genealogy classes, homeschool programs, toddler times,
and teen programs we began April with Easter parties for the young set, and
there were various activities in the three branches, from egg hunts to visits
from the Easter Bunny.
programs have also become quite the hit targeting that 7-11 age group! And finally, resident cheese maker and County
Librarian, Valerie Jensen took her show on the road to the Groves Public
Library. They had a great turnout with
close to 30 people in attendance.
Sharing program ideas and resources with area libraries is always a
great thing – we get some of our best ideas from each other.
Lastly, we’re gearing up for our annual Summer Reading
Program. We have some great programs and
activities lined up this summer for all age groups. Be on the lookout at your local branch for
some weird and wacky decorations! It’s
going to be a great summer! Check our
website soon for more details on the summer program. It all starts June 9th
FOAR President, Matthew Jackson presents Assistant County Librarian, Annie Vass with their highly anticipated book on the life of the Refuge
OneOK engineers volunteering for after-school tutorials at Anahuac
Firefighter and EMS worker, John Willey holds DVDs received by the library through grant funds from Entergy
Library System – March, 2014
March came and went in a flash and the libraries were
buzzing as usual with almost 10,000 people coming through our doors. It’s such a wonderful thing to see the amount
of people visiting, but I shouldn’t be surprised with the talented and
dedicated staff we have providing our county with such quality programs and
Speaking of being busy, this time of year our newly
purchased books with our new budget have all been cataloged. But over the last couple of years, other
services such as Interlibrary Loan, book sales, inventory, summer reading
preparation, etc. have picked up and overshadowed this priority. People don’t always think about the work and
time that goes into getting all those pretty books, DVDs, Interlibrary Loans,
audiobooks, and other materials to their hands for checkout. But it takes a great deal of effort and eye
for detail. We’ve been forced to take an
hour here and there from an existing staff at Anahuac to help lessen the load
from our Technical Services Librarian, Kathy Fielding so we’re able to stay on
task. With the upcoming new library on
the west side, all these “behind the scenes” jobs will increase and so will the
need for additional personnel in that department. I have to give a huge thank you to Kathy who
has done a stellar job at keeping Tech Services running smoothly and those
popular best sellers on the shelves in a timely manner.
March started with our annual “Read Across America” programs
celebrating the anniversary of the birth of children’s author, Dr. Seuss. Each year on or near March 2, the birthday of
Dr. Seuss is celebrated by encouraging adults and children to read together. All 3 Chambers County libraries celebrated
Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a special visit from Cat in the Hat and celebrated
with reading some Dr. Seuss, activities, games, and other fun activities.
After-school tutorials continue at the Chambers County
Library in Anahuac. Students attend
weekly tutorial sessions led by volunteer tutors and library staff. Volunteers are always needed on a rotating
basis to help the middle school aged students with their math and reading
homework. Contact Aquilia De la Cruz if
you are interested at, 409-267-2554.
Teens at Anahuac and
Mont Belvieu were treated to a field trip to see the popular film adaptation of
Divergent. Divergent is the first in a
popular book trilogy for teens, and our reserve list is pages long!
In January, GED and ESL classes were put on hiatus. We attempted to seek alternate funding to
support the program and thanks to the Anahuac Municipal Development District,
they have agreed to fund the program for the next year. GED and ESL classes have always been well
attended and much needed, and with this grant we’ll be able to purchase new and
updated materials for students. If
you’re interested in attending any of these classes, please contact the Anahuac
branch at 409-267-2554. Classes will
resume May 5.
The County Employee Health and Benefits Fair, held on the 26th,
was an opportunity for the library system to preach to our peers. Our library booth featured a variety of
exercise, disease, and health-oriented DVDs and books. We also managed to work in a few items of
interest from our general collection, like our online database programs for
downloading audiobooks, and other online services. Quite a few employees who stopped were very
interested in what we can offer them. We
also managed to get a donation of fruit from Food Town in Baytown. Apples, bananas, and oranges were quite a hit
with our visitors!
Until next month!
Assistant County Librarian, Annie Vass at the Employee Health Fair
Mont Belvieu kids enjoy storytime!
Anahuac kids enjoy Dr. Seuss!
Library System – January, 2014
January 1 brings the library’s new budget year, and with
that we begin the fun task of ordering new books, supplies, equipment, and
other services for our public. It’s
always exciting when we get the opportunity to fulfill all our patron book
In programming news, the Chambers County Library in Anahuac
celebrated 6 years of book club. The
ladies had dinner at Luna’s and discussed their latest read, Where’d you go,
. Book club has quickly
become a popular program at all 3 branches.
Winnie and Mont Belvieu’s clubs recently turned 1! Besides book club, the adults had several
other programs to choose from. Count
Librarian, Valerie Jensen taught a beginning cheese making class with over 30
attendees. Everyone enjoyed a sample,
and even got to make their own homemade mozzarella. Basic computer classes (also in Spanish),
craft club, and genealogy rounded out the month.
The teens also had their share of fun. Winnie tweens and teens had crafts and a
movie day, while Mont Belvieu held Yukikon, a Japanese Winter Ball complete
with video games, food, and music. Over
30 teens attended, and a fun time was had by all. It’s great to how programs that started at
one branch have spread in popularity throughout the county. Means we’re doing something right!
The new library working group for the West Chambers Branch
library is made up of County Librarian Valerie Jensen, Assistant County
Librarian Annie Vass, Commissioner Gary Nelson, County Engineer Bobby Hall,
Superintendent Greg Poole, and City Representatives Bryan Easum and Nathan
Watkins. For the past year, we’ve been
doing quite a bit of behind the scenes work to make the Sam and Carmena Goss
Memorial Branch Library a reality. Last
week the final Interlocal agreement was passed, and soon the fun starts with
floor plans and design. This is
definitely a dream come true for yours truly, not to mention the staff, and
citizens on the West side. Valerie and
Annie also attended a webinar with the State Library about the updates with the
Annual Report, and also spent time finalizing some local community grants as
well as grants with the Texas Book Festival.
Our plates stay pretty full!
In personnel news, we recently added 2 new Librarian
Technicians to our team. Becky Storey is
providing some much needed front desk relief at Mont Belvieu, and Shelby
Fielding has jumped in at Anahuac taking on computer classes, craft club, and
fills in at book club when needed.
A big thank you to Building Maintenance and IT for their
fast help setting up the Anahuac meeting room.
It’s now complete with a mounted projector and surround sound to make
movie nights even more enjoyable. Also,
a television plays most days for patrons to enjoy the news or other educational
channels. This room is one of the few
places available for public meetings during and after library hours. The room books quickly, so call in advance to
reserve your time and date. Don’t forget
you must have a library card! Stop by
and take advantage of the library’s new “media room” and enjoy a nice quiet
Finally, it’s that time of year where tax forms are in high
demand. This year the IRS is delivering
forms and booklets as they become available.
Booklets are starting to trickle in, so it shouldn’t be much longer
before we have them at the libraries. Check
back or call to check the status of tax form and booklet deliveries.
Adults having fun making cheese!
Mont Belvieu kids enjoying storytime!
Winnie kids enjoying storytime!
Chambers County Library System - December report
Total database logons:
Public computer logons:
One of the most
popular questions asked by the public seems to always be, “Are people still
checking out print books?”. The answer
is always a resounding “YES!”. Our
eBook/audiobook circulation continues to rise each month, and so does our print
circulation. In 2013, print circulation
went up 5% from 2012. Overdrive, our
free audiobook/eBook downloadable service, had a 27% increase over last year’s
numbers. We’ve held several programs to
get the public more familiar with Overdrive, so stay tuned for the next one, or
just stop or call the library for help.
attendance was also up from 2012, and our overall circulation continues to
climb. I could not be more proud of this
library system, the staff, and our wonderful public who continue to see the
library as the best use of taxpayer’s money.
We try our best
to provide the best possible electronic content for our public, and one of our
database resources that we provide (for free) to the public is called
TexShare. TexShare provides exclusive
databases in areas of science, health, business, history and literature. Plus homework help for students elementary
through college. The cost for Chambers
County is $576, but broken down by vendor and without help from the state
library, it would cost us $59,031. A
huge savings to the county, and a wonderful resource for the public.
Some highlights of 2013
Our highest circulation ever for the annual
Summer Reading Program – 36,702!
Library received grant towards the
purchase of 2 Early Literacy Station computers
Library received grant to digitize The
Assistant County Librarian, Annie Vass
joined the team
Over $2,500 made in Friends of the
library book sales
City of Mont Belvieu bond passes to
help fund new library for the West Side
Library System partners with United
Way to offer after school tutoring
Children’s programs in December mean
Christmas, and along with singing, stories, and crafts, jolly old St. Nick
showed up a couple of times as well. Our programs are geared for the elementary
school-aged crowd, while our weekly story hours focus on preschoolers. The kids
had a great time this year. Kudos to all of our children’s programming people
for their work in planning the programs.
The Friends of the Chambers County Library
System held their annual December book sale at Anahuac and Mont Belvieu. Just over $1,200 was raised with the profits
going to ongoing library programs. The
book sale offers books, movies, and magazines for less than $1 each. Not a bad profit for a few days’ work!
We also received a nice surprise from our
friends at the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. A donation was made to purchase books for the
library on ecology, estuaries, marshes and related topics. The library appreciates the continued support
from the refuge.
And finally, throughout the year we keep
statistics on the number of books checked out, walk-in traffic, program counts,
database usage, and much more. It’s all
part of our efforts to maintain standards as they are set by the Texas State
Library. The standards include
requirements in administration, collection, facility, finance, marketing,
personnel, service, and technology. The
purpose of these standards is to promote quality library service, raise
expectations of library clientele, and provide some official documentation to
Commissioners’ court and potential funders who support the library. Chambers County has always exceeded the
minimum required standards and we hope our service to the public is
representative of that.
Until next month!
Winnie teens enjoy their field trip to see Catching Fire
County Librarian, Valerie Jensen accepts a donation from incoming Friends of the Anahuac Refuge Treasurer, Rose Bolt
Mont Belvieu staff pose with Santa at the after school Christmas party
Chambers County Library System –
is still a long way off, but that didn’t stop us from planning! Usually, we have our Summer Reading planning
meeting in February, but with the State Library now merging with the National
Summer Reading Program, our deadlines have been pushed up a bit. On the 15th, we had an afternoon
planning meeting that lasted 4 hours.
The Branch Librarians, Children’s programmers and Teen programmers all
attended to toss around ideas and nail down the specifics for 2014. Next year’s theme is by far the best I’ve
seen it in my 17+ years at this library, and the staff agrees; it’s going to be
a fun summer and we can’t wait to kick off with fun activities and programs for
all ages. Of course, we start soliciting
our local businesses for donations, so if you’re reading this and want to throw
a few bucks our direction specifically for Summer Reading, be our guest! All donations are tax deductible, and you get
lots of free publicity.
On the 12th,
the Library Advisory Board met for their last quarterly meeting of the
year. We had several policies to update,
which were all discussed and approved.
All our library policies are available on our website as well as the
circulation desks at each branch for the public to view. Board members were asked to renew their terms
on the board, and with the exception of one member who is moving, everyone
agreed to stay with us another 2 years.
Our current Board members representing all parts of the county include,
Sam Little, Carolyn Caldwell, Marlin Moore, Youngshin Cobabe, Chris Ramsey,
Sarah Kathan, and Katie Jackson.
news, Anahuac held a “Technology Petting Zoo” to introduce patrons to the
latest techie devices. Two
representatives from Best Buy brought the new iPad, Surface, Kindle and other
devices to let patrons get a hands on feel for what they might want to wish for
at Christmas. Staff members were also on
hand to answer questions about the library’s downloadable books, or other
databases accessible from the latest gadgets.
Our downloadable book statistics continue to climb increasing 20% from
Winnie held a
tween program to promote the latest installment in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid
series. Staff member Kim Silcox had 15
youngsters enjoy book related games and activities. Programs that tie into book releases are
always a big draw for the kids.
Libraries get a
lot of foot traffic, and sometimes our carpet lets us know. Special thanks to the maintenance department
for allowing their employees time to work on the weekend for carpet
cleaning. The Anahuac and Mont Belvieu
branches all have nice, clean carpet that desperately needed cleaning.
The Anahuac and
Mont Belvieu branches held movie field trips to the latest Hunger Games
When Hollywood interprets books that are popular with the teens, we take
advantage and let them have some fun critiquing the movie with their
friends. Field trips aren’t that often,
but they are certainly popular with the older teens! Of course we have ourselves covered with
permission slips and county employees as drivers. It’s a perk of the job, even if it is after
Anahuac teens at the movies!
Mont Belvieu teens at the movies!
Checking out the cool new gadgets at the Technology Petting Zoo at the
Chambers County Library in Anahuac