Thursday, May 05, 2016


March @ the Library

Despite the closure at Mont Belvieu and the remodeling at Anahuac, the libraries were still busy as usual.  Mont Belvieu remained closed through the month of March so we could finalize the last minute details of moving over to the new building.  The Anahuac remodel is complete with only a few finishing touches remaining.  We’re excited to have the opportunity to not only have a new building at Mont Belvieu, but to get a ‘face lift’ where it was desperately needed in Anahuac. 

March provided the library system with another opportunity to show the communities some of the things we do best. National Read Across America Day was celebrated at the libraries with our Cat in the Hat costumes (courtesy of the Friends of CCLS).  Kids enjoyed hearing Dr. Seuss stories, activities and games.  Easter parties rounded out the month with egg hunts, crafts, games, and even a visit from the Easter Bunny himself! 

The Friends of CCLS held a Gently Used Book Sale at Anahuac starting on March 30.  This 3 day sale brought in several hundred dollars from our faithful buyers who look forward to the new books we get donated throughout the year.  The next sale will be in December at Anahuac and Winnie.  With the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch, Mont Belvieu has an ongoing bookstore staffed with volunteers.  Hours vary each week. 

In other programming news, Adult Programmer Jennifer Kellum held her 2nd annual Women’s History Month program at Anahuac.  The group enjoyed brunch and a movie.  Jennifer also continues to lead a Walk for Wellness group, which meets every Monday from 5:30-6:30.   The teen staff at Anahuac and Winnie continued their regular programs during March.  Activities included canvas painting, beach crafts, and anime club.  Craft programs are also popular among the adults with craft club at standing room only in Anahuac.  The craft for the adults in May is a wooden pallet picture frame.  Registration is required, call the library at 409-267-2554 for more information. 

The county employee health and benefits fair, held on the 24th, was an opportunity for the library system to showcase our health related resources.  Our 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 by were very interested in what we can offer them! 

Finally, the library received the ‘all clear’ on our annual report to the state library.  This means that we have reached exemplary standards with our personnel, finance, technology, and service.  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 maintaining high standards and going above and beyond to stay current in library trends. 

Until next month!

Tween/Teen craft at Anahuac

Assistant County Librarian, Annie Vass at the county employee health fair

Dr. Seuss storytime at Anahuac!

Tween beach craft at Winnie!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chambers County Library System – February, 2016

February began with a book sale at the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie.  Several volunteers assisted with the setup and sale, bringing in a few hundred dollars that will go towards library programs and events.  The public always enjoys the sales at the branches!  We are also anticipating great things with the permanent bookstore opening at the new Mont Belvieu site soon! 

Remodeling at the main branch in Anahuac continues.  As with any project, you can expect a few hiccups along the way, but we expect things to be completed in about a week with new office spaces and flooring.  Mont Belvieu inches closer to completion as the West Chambers Branch closes its doors in March.  We still have several details to finalize before we open the doors to the public. 

The Library Advisory Board met on the 9th to update and discuss a couple library policies.  The Board plays a vital role in shaping policy based on staff recommendation.  Not only do they discuss policies, they are also the eyes and ears in the community to provide feedback from the public.  Their next meeting will be held May 3 in Anahuac.

The Anahuac and Winnie branches held after school Valentine’s parties for the younger crowd.  Stories, songs, crafts and fun were provided by the children’s staff. 
Other fun programs in February included:

·         Sewing 101
·         FREE Cardio class provided by Janice Jircik with the Wellness Center at Bayside
·         Spring Gardening with master gardeners A. Lynette Parsons and Susan Roshto
·         Mother/daughter spa night with special guests from Merle Norman and Paper, Rock, Scissors
·         Movie nights
·         Anime club
·         Storytimes
·         Craft club
·         Book club
·         And much more!

On the 20th, Children’s staff members Michelle Mims and Yolie Belt attended a workshop at Lee College for early educators.  Motivational speaker Luis Hernandez provided 4 hours of instruction on early childhood development, and how certain skills can enhance the classroom (and library) experience. 

Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass, Assistant Technical Librarian Jennifer Kellum and myself attended a webinar on the 17th on the digitization software that will be used for museum items.  The next phase of historical work will be to make items of local historical significance accessible to the public.  This will be an ongoing project for library staff. 

Interviews continue for 2 open positions within the library system due to the growth and demand we’ve experienced in the last couple of years.  A 12hpw position at Anahuac for front desk relief, and 24hpw position at Mont Belvieu for a Children’s Librarian are currently posted on the library’s website. 

Until next month!

Empty shelves at Mont Belvieu

Lil' berries storytime at Winnie

Spa night at Winnie
Remodeling at Anahuac

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


January @ the Library!

Chambers County Library System – January, 2016

January seemed to pass us by without warning!  Usually, this time of year we’ve had time to visit with all our vendors, get the 2016 files in order, and focus on activities for the new year.  But we’ve been spending time on the administrative side playing catch up from the work that comes with day to day operations, new library construction, and remodeling.  It’s been busy and hectic, but overall we could not be happier with the results we’ll be getting in the months to come.  In Mont Belvieu, the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch construction continues on schedule.  Within the next few weeks we will have carpet and furniture, then shelving along with the move to follow.  A grand opening date will soon be announced!  The gang at Anahuac has been experiencing some construction of their own.  Walls are being demoed, and soon there will be some noticeable, and much needed changes.  We do want to thank the public for their patience with the noise and mess – it’s definitely your tax dollars at work!

We did manage to squeeze in a vendor or two to order new books.  Our new budget year allows us to purchase the latest titles, fill in holes where we have missing books, and build the collection so that we’re meeting the standards required by the state. 

February 6-8 we closed the Winnie branch to continue inventory and RFID tagging.  The tagging is required as part of the new self-checkout system and added security that will be implemented at Mont Belvieu, and later at Anahuac and Winnie.  With the amount of reserve items that we tote back and forth throughout the county, it’s important that all items be tagged and ready for checkout. 

On the 23rd, the Friends of the Chambers County Library System held their annual meeting at Anahuac.  The Friends spent their time updating those in attendance on activities held throughout the year, discussion of the library’s “wish list” of items not funded in the county budget, and selection of the library system’s employee of the year.  The 2015 Employee of the Year was selected with the honor going to Lori Knapp in Mont Belvieu.  Lori has been with the library since 2008 as a Library Technician.  Before starting at the library, Lori was an active library user and Library Advisory Board member.  She is responsible for adult programming, cataloging, and front desk assistance.  The Friends also gave an update on the fundraising campaign for the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library.  County Librarian, Valerie Jensen gave a ‘State of the Library System’ speech, giving those in attendance a snapshot of the year, as well as new things to come.    The Friends were approached recently with a donation in memory of long time library user, Fran Mamich.  Fran was a Barbers Hill ISD teacher, library user, and those who knew her, knew her love for children and reading.  Fran’s husband and friends toured the new library site to determine the best way to memorialize Fran, and decided on funding the furnishings for the children’s activity room.

GED and ESL classes continue at Anahuac, and on January 12 the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie started offering weekly GED classes.  So far the response has been great.  Classes for GED run similar to a college semester, and the next registration period will be advertised at the library and the local newspapers.  GED is funded by the adult education program through College of the Mainland.  ESL is funded by the Anahuac Municipal Development District.  Classes are held at Anahuac every Tuesday 6-9 for beginners, and Thursday 6-9 for advanced.  Call the library to find out more information on any of these classes. 

Programs continued at Anahuac and Winnie while Mont Belvieu remains on pause with theirs as they prepare for the upcoming move.  The Mont Belvieu gang is chomping at the bit to start back up with storytime and other exciting programs they have in the works.  At Anahuac, as part of a New Year, New You series, they held a basic makeup tips and tricks program.  On February 18th at 5:30pm, the next program in the series is a free cardio class presented by Janice Jircik with the Wellness Center at Bayside.  Spanish storytime was held on the 12th, and craft club on the 13th.

At Winnie, an “Intro to Guitar” for the tween and teen audiences, adult coloring program, and their ongoing Genealogy Interest Group were just a few programs held in addition to the regular storytime and movie nights. 

And finally, Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass and I just finished submitting the annual report to the Texas State Library.  Our increases for 2015 included database usage, program attendance, and wireless usage.  Our circulation is a healthy 214,521 for 2015!  These figures translate to even more residents utilizing what the county provides.  It’s a great use of tax dollars for many citizens.   

Until next month!  Valerie Jensen, County Librarian

Employee of the year Lori Knapp with Friends president Jean Forrest

ESL students at the Anahuac branch

Friends of Fran Mamich touring the new library site

Monday, December 14, 2015


November report!

Chambers County Library System – November, 2015

November started out with vendors knocking on our doors to schedule meetings to share their latest books and products.  The select group of vendors we deal with have some great selections for both our print and digital collections.  Nothing gets delivered until January 1, so the public has to wait a couple months before the new stuff gets cataloged, processed and routed to the branches.  It’s definitely worth the wait!

On the 10th, the Library Advisory Board met in Anahuac for their quarterly meeting.  The group approved an update to the small and large equipment policy.  The board meets quarterly, with their next meeting in February.

In programming news, Anahuac held their monthly craft club, which continues to increase in popularity thanks to the impressive crafts planned by Branch Librarian, Aquilia De la Cruz.  Each month a craft is selected, supplies provided, and patrons spend the hour crafting, socializing, and brainstorming ideas for the next month.  Young Adult Librarian Lashebia Haskin held a teen writing workshop on November 5th.  Local author, Lesa Boutin was the guest presenter for the program.  Lesa is part of the Writers in the Schools program out of Houston.  Her creative and inspiring methods bring out wonderful stories in even the most reluctant writers.  GED and ESL classes continue each week, along with monthly anime club, movie day, and book club. 

Anahuac teens with local author Lesa Boutin
The Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie held a coloring class for adults led by staff member Mary Abshire.   This unique program provided a relaxing way for adults to “de-stress”.  The response was great, and another program is scheduled soon.  Young Adult Librarian Kim Silcox held a Diary of a Wimpy Kid program to celebrate the release of the newest book in the series.  Kids enjoyed book trivia, drawing, and other book related activities.  Kim also took a group teens to the release of the new Mockingjay movie on the 22nd.  Movie field trips are popular with the teens, especially when it’s a high anticipated book to movie release. 

Winnie teens ready for the Mockingjay movie!

Book club continues at all the Chambers County Library System branches.  If you’re wondering what to read, want a suggestions, or just want to hang out with some really fun people, check out your local library’s meeting times and dates.  Current reading selections for the month of December are:  At Anahuac, Girl on the Train; At Winnie, Girl on the Train; At Mont Belvieu, All she ever wanted
Storytime also continues at the branches.  Each week there are themed storytimes to engage the children in reading, enjoy crafts, songs, and more.  The staff does a great job with the little ones, and their faces say it all!

Construction continues at the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library.  The weather hasn’t been favorable, causing several bad weather days, but despite the rain things are moving along.  The latest completion date has now been moved to February.  We’ve put a temporary pause to some of our regular programs at the West Chambers Branch in Mont Belvieu.  A couple of projects are being completed such as book tagging, weeding, and getting items ready to pack up and move.  Once we get to the actual transition, the library should not be closed more than a couple of weeks.  The staff is more than ready to move into their new space, and I know the public is just as excited!

Entry into the new library

Until next month! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


September @ The Library!

September was National Library Card Sign-Up month.  And how fitting that the West Chambers Branch in Mont Belvieu hit a milestone reaching over 5,000 cardholders!  Each month we add over 100 new cards in the system.  By issuing family cards, the number of actual library users is more than double the cardholders on file.  Currently, the Chambers County Library System has 10,523 cardholders with an average of 3 people per account.  That’s almost the population of the county. 

Growth has brought great things to Chambers County, and libraries are definitely in demand! 
As the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch continues with construction, we have also continued adding additional staff as the county budget allows.  Last year we requested and were approved a full time position.  That position was filled by Shelby Fielding and she’s settled in nicely and continues to be trained to prepare for the transition to the new building.  This past month we added Sabrina Galloway as the Children’s Librarian.  We were also approved for an additional full time and part-time position in our 2016 budget.  The full time position will be filled by existing staff, and we’ll start the search for the part-time position January 1.  Moving into a new building leaves us with some unknowns in terms of program expectations.  On average, the West Chambers Branch has 10-15 programs each month.  Once we settle into the new building, we’ll have a better idea what to expect since we anticipate increases in checkouts and foot traffic.  Being closer in proximity to the schools leads us to believe we’ll be concentrating more on after-school programs.  The best part is seeing the direction this new library takes us.  Construction continues, and due to the 31 bad weather days claimed, the latest completion date had to be moved from November to January 15.  It will definitely be a Happy New Year!

The Chambers County Library in Anahuac was at capacity in their programming for September.  Over 25 programs, including GED and ESL took place this past month.  GED classes are funded through the College of the Mainland in Texas City as part of their Adult Education program.  Their service area includes Chambers County, and they’ve been reaching out to mid-county, as well as Winnie, to assist the adult population.  ESL classes have expanded to a beginner and advanced course this year due to increasing demand for the classes.  ESL is funded through a grant from the Anahuac Municipal Development District.  Many of the students who have completed ESL have moved on to GED prep classes.  It’s a wonderful thing to see the personal growth of these students.  They’re finding jobs and working to contribute to the county in a positive way. 

One of the more popular programs during September was ‘Zydeco 101’ taught by staff member LaShebia Haskin.  LaShebia had over 20 people at the library learning the basics of Zydeco dance just in time for Gatorfest.  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! 

County Librarian Valerie Jensen and Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass held a Canines and Cocktails event on the 17th.  This program was a ticketed event done in partnership with the Friends of the Library with proceeds split between the new library in Mont Belvieu and the Baytown Humane Society.  This event was held on the library lawn and attendees were able to mingle with other dog lovers while enjoying music, drinks, and pet photographs. A great time was had by all, and we anticipate doing it again next year!

The Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie held programs for the tween and teen crowds.  Duct Tape projects and DIY whiteboards were among the crafts.  Movie nights, story time, computer classes, and book club were also in full force. 

We’ve pulled back on programs at Mont Belvieu so that we can concentrate on more projects that need to be completed before we move.  But the teens were able to have an Ultimate Frisbee program outside on the library property.  Movie night, story time, and book club will continue through the rest of the year. 

On the 23rd, the teen and adult program staff met at Anahuac.  Once a year we try to find time for staff members who specialize in age specific programs to meet and share ideas so they can prepare for new activities in the months to come.  Adult programs are slowly being added to the library system’s calendar each month at all branches, so be on the lookout for some fun (and unique) activities for the over 18 crowd.   
Storytime officially started back the week of September 7th.  Staff member Jennifer Kellum filled in at Mont Belvieu until the Children’s Librarian position was filled.  Special thanks to her for helping out!  Each branch holds a weekly story time focusing on stories, crafts, songs, and movement exercises.  Each year the crowds seem to grow, and the parents tend to have just as much fun as the little ones.  Winnie’s Children’s Librarian Yolie Belt introduced an “iStorytime” where she included iPads/Technology as part of the program.  Children’s staff member Michelle Mims attended iStorytime to get ideas of her own for Anahuac.  You’re never too young (or old) to learn technology…and the library’s the perfect spot to learn.

Until next month!

Canines & Cocktails at Anahuac

"Dot" story time at Winnie

Ultimate Frisbee at Mont Belvieu

Anahuac staff at Gatorfest

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


August at the Library!

Chambers County Library System – August, 2015

August was once again full of activities at the libraries.  Everyone was still coming down from the Summer Reading high, but it wasn’t long before we picked right back up for back to school activities and fall program planning. 

The Friends of CCLS held their annual summer book sale at the West Chambers Branch in Mont Belvieu.  This week long event brought in over $1000 profit to benefit library programs and services.  Book donations provide us with such great stock to sell for the public, but we’ve had to put a temporary halt on book donations at Mont Belvieu so we can have the space to start boxing up office supplies.  I know this isn’t the most convenient for those of you who haul in boxes of books, but it’s all part of the move and effort on our part to make a seamless transition into the new library.  The new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch will house a permanent bookstore, which will be open several days a week to the public. 

We said goodbye to our summer helpers on August 8th, and welcomed our part-time after-school workers shortly after.  Summer help provides us with full time student workers for 10 weeks, while the after-school help (called Pages), gives us 15 hours each week of assistance shelving books, and doing other much needed tasks.  

On the 11th we held our quarterly Library Advisory Board meeting.  The group discussed and voted on updating several policies.  We also managed to snap a group photo.  Library Advisory Board meetings are open to the public, and members are appointed by Commissioners’ Court based on a recommendation from the County Librarian.  Current members include: Sam Little, Carolyn Caldwell, Sarah Kathan, Katie Jackson, Marlin Moore, Susie Davis, and Rhonda LeBlanc. 

The branches held a Back to School Bash in August.  Anahuac held their event at the middle school in order to have the ZORB ball obstacle course, face painting, and volunteers with the Anahuac Volunteer Fire Department present fire safety.  Winnie held their event at the community building with giant games, snacks and giveaways, while Mont Belvieu had an arts & crafts day on the 13th.  Special thanks to everyone involved – All Summer Long, John Willey, Tracie Lasater, Yvonne Morgan, and not to mention the hard work of the entire library staff.

Staff member Kim Silcox held a game night at the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie.  Over 20 tweens and teens enjoyed video games, board games, and of course lots of snacks! 

Valerie Jensen and Annie Vass attended a United Way committee meeting to update the group on the success of after-school tutorials at the Chambers County Library in Anahuac.  A partnership with United Way planted the seed for the success of this program.  Ongoing cooperation from the school and Sheriff’s Office allow the library to provide a space for students to receive extra help after school.  Once the bell rings, the library is often times the only place where students can access computers in order to finish up homework, check out books, or access library resources.

The adults at Anahuac were treated to Painting With a Twist on the 13th.   A standing room only crowd enjoyed creating a “Happy Hydrangeas” masterpiece that they could paint and take home. 

The Chambers County Historical Commission was recognized at Commissioners’ Court on July 14th for receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission.  Congrats to the group on their dedication to the county’s history and their ongoing work to preserve local landmarks and sites.    

Finally, the library system received a donation towards the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch from the West Chambers County Pilot Club.  The members presented a check for $10,000.00 to be used for the purchase of Early Literacy Station computers.  We can’t thank the Pilots enough for their support of the library!

Until next month!

Library Advisory Board members

Painting with a Twist at Anahuac

Back to School Bash fun at Anahuac

Back to School Bash fun at Anahuac

$10,000 donation from the West Chambers County Pilot Club towards the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Chambers County Library System - July report

Summer Reading at a Glance:

Minutes read: 336,936
Children’s enrollment – up 8%
Teen enrollment – up 9%
Children’s program attendance - up 51%

New patron enrollment – up 7% from 2014    
Total circulation June/July – 65,697
7,381 people attended programs at the Chambers County Library System in June and July

Summer Reading came and went with a blur.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun!  Seems like we were just gearing up for Kickoff week, now we’re sending over 150 thank you letters to everyone who supported our program this year.  The week of July 20th ended the 6-week program with Superhero programs for the little ones, arts & crafts, dodgeball, dances, and video games for the teens, and cooking, CPR, and Zumba classes for the adults.  We pride ourselves on providing great programs for the public, and the public responded beyond our expectations with their attendance.  This year our overall attendance jumped over 50%.  That’s definitely something to be proud of! 

To go along with our superhero theme, we decided to include those heroes without capes and adopt a troop through Project Frontlines.  The 3rd Battalion 29th Field Artillery Regiment was assigned to the library.  We had a huge response and collected over 500 items from patrons at all 3 libraries.  Monetary donations from the American Legion Hall, Post #104 in Anahuac helped greatly with shipping costs, and purchasing other small items of need.  Items shipped out this week, and should be delivered within a month.  

A big thank you to our sponsors who donated their time, talent, money, and coupons for our annual Summer Reading Program.  The response has been overwhelming from local businesses and groups who provide us with incentives and prizes for our patrons.  Also, to our Friends of the Chambers County Library System group for underwriting the program, and to our corporate sponsor, NRG, LLC for granting us funds to provide some of our bigger programs for the kids.  The smiles on kids’ faces and hundreds of “Thank you’s” from the public made all the work and effort worth it. 

We start planning for our summer program each October, so I can’t say enough about the staff and their creativity when it comes to programs and decorations.  We had several people in line asking for the cute Superhero decorations for their classrooms or churches.  I love to brag on the talented group I have!  They go above and beyond and it doesn’t go unnoticed.  We were also given extra help this summer thanks to the County Commissioners.  Eight high school and college workers were employed to help with our busy summer.  These kids were worth their weight in gold providing us with much needed extra hands. 

In July, we welcomed our newest staff member, Pepper Trove to the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie.  Pepper will provide Winnie with much needed front desk help when the current part-timers are out of pocket. 

County Librarian Valerie Jensen and Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass took a trip to Groves Public Library and Hughes Library in Nederland.  Having close ties to several library directors in our area, this allowed me to introduce Annie and have her see their buildings, hear their successes, and get some insight in how Chambers County compares to our neighbors.  It’s great to keep in contact with our neighboring libraries! 

Ongoing construction continues for the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch in Mont Belvieu.  The foundation is set, steel beams are on order, and the parking lot is about to take shape.  Things are moving, and the next several months will be even busier with packing up our existing library and making the move down the road.  Programs at Mont Belvieu will be fewer than normal to allow us to do the prep work we need as we transition into the new building. 

The Friends are still on their fundraising campaign, and more donations are needed!  Check out the website and see how you can contribute.  You can purchase a brick paver that will line the outside entry, make a general donation, or purchase a Naming Opportunity such as iPads and landscaping features.  Every little bit counts! 

Finally, the library received a $1500 grant from the Texas Book Festival for new Young Adult books at the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie.  This competitive grant is awarded each year and announced at the annual Texas Library Association conference.  The teens at Winnie were excited to see some new popular titles on the shelves.

Until next month!

Donna Boullion, Adult Summer Reading raffle winner at Anahuac

Kids at the West Chambers Branch enjoying the end of summer party

Kids showing their appreciation to our 2015 sponsors and adopted troop

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?