Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chambers County Library System – March, 2017

March is prime time for the library to plan and finalize our busiest and most successful event of the year, the Summer Reading Program.  We already have over 150 sponsors, our programs and details lined out, and we’re very excited about the fun activities planned for the kids, teens, and adults this summer.  Be on the lookout soon for details!
The Chambers County Library in Anahuac held a week of Spring Break events.  Throughout the week, there were family game nights, book themed parties, painting classes, movies, and more.    

Spring Break fun at Anahuac

The Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch in Mont Belvieu is the last of our branches to start offering GED prep classes.  Registration began on the 20th, and classes officially started on Monday, March 27th.  Classes are funded and organized by the College of the Mainland’s adult education division. 

On March 27th, our newest digital download service began.  Hoopla Digital allows cardholders to check out 3 items per month.  Movies, music, eBooks, audiobooks, and comics are all on hand 24/7 with Hoopla.  You never have to wait, items area always available for checkout.  Check out for more details and sign up today!

On the 30th, County Librarian Valerie Jensen and Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass worked the library booth at the county’s annual Health and Wellness Fair.  We had the opportunity to showcase the library’s resources on cooking, exercise, stress relief, and more.  We also passed out oranges and bananas to those in attendance. 

 Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass at the Health and Wellness Fair

Storytime fun continued at the libraries in March.  Each month, the Children’s Librarians turn in themes for their weekly programs.  March included fun activities such as Music & Rhythm, St. Patrick’s Day, Opposite Day, Down on the Farm, and more!  

                               Music & Rhythm at Anahuac

St. Patrick’s Day at Winnie

    Silly socks at Anahuac   

In March we welcomed two new staff members to the library system.  Katilin Hooper started on the 1st at the Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie.  Kaitlin will be working part-time as front desk help.  On the 6th, we welcomed Liz Cabrera at the Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch in Mont Belvieu.  Liz is the new full-time Children’s Librarian.  She will be responsible for Storytime, Babygarten, and other programs for the 11 & under crowd.  

The library system’s annual report to the state was due this month.   Each month we collect statistics from the three county libraries on program attendance, print and electronic circulation, reference questions, and more.  These numbers are compiled at the end of the year and submitted to the State Library.  As long as the county meets the local funding requirements for our assigned population, and our collection is the appropriate size per capita, we are certified as an “Accredited” library for another year.  Currently, all Chambers County taxpayers pay $22 per year for library services.  That’s quite the bargain!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Chambers County Library System – January, 2017

Please forgive the late writing of this monthly report, but January passed us by as quickly as it came!  On the administrative side of things we spent time with our regular vendors, set up our 2017 budget, dealt with the day to day operations of running a library system, and focused on upcoming activities for the new year.  We’re looking forward to starting our 2017 purchases in the next couple of weeks.

On the 9th, the Chambers County Library in Anahuac celebrated its 9th year with book club.  Members gathered at Iguana Joe’s in Mont Belvieu to discuss their latest book, Homegoing.  Staff member Jennifer Kellum is in charge of the Anahuac group and states that the secret to their long success is the unity that is formed with the members.  “Everyone has different tastes, I get suggestions for titles from the members and sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s not!  But that’s what makes book club great.  The members not only discuss their book title each month, they also use their time to talk about what’s going on in the world and in their lives.  They eat great food, read something they might not otherwise read, and it’s a fun way for them to stay involved with the library and community.”  A few upcoming titles for 2017 include, Take me with you by Agatha Christie, and The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter.  The Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie is in their 5th year.  Staff member Mary Abshire leads the group.  Upcoming titles include, The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck, and Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford.  The Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch in Mont Belvieu began an inspirational book club that is also in their 5th year.  Staff member Kellee Traylor will be taking over the club and will begin to include a wide variety of titles for the group.  Kellee decided to name her book club, “The Best Lil’ Book Club in Texas”.  Their upcoming book for March is At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen.  Check with your local library for meeting times and dates.  You’ll get hooked on good books, good company, and good conversation. 

The Juanita Hargraves Memorial Branch in Winnie held an adult movie night on the 12th.  GED prep classes also continue there every Tuesday at 5pm. 

The teens at Mont Belvieu were treated to a Japanese themed event called Yukikon.  Teens enjoyed videogames, a ramen noodle bar, crafts, trivia, a drawing contest, and movies.  Staff member Shelby Fielding organized the event and her efforts proved successful with over 20 teens joining in the fun. 

Staff member Lori Knapp held a “Kombucha 101” class at Mont Belvieu on the 24th.  It was standing room only as participants tasted different types of Kombucha, heard about its health benefits, and learned how to make their own home brew.  Everyone was given a “scoby” to take home, which is like a starter for the popular tea blend.  

At Anahuac, the ever popular crafting classes still boasts a long waiting list.  Monthly adult craft club is held the 2nd Wednesday of the month, and a homeschool craft group meets the 2nd Thursday of the month.  Sewing classes are also held on random times throughout the year.  Registration is required for crafting classes.  Sign up early to reserve your spot!

And of course each of the libraries offer a weekly Storytime and Babygarten program.  These programs are targeted towards our tiniest patrons with stories, songs, activities, crafts and more. 

Until next month!

Kombucha 101 at Mont Belvieu

9th Anniversary of Book Club at Anahuac

Adult craft club at Anahuac

Homeschool craft club at Anahuac

Pajama storytime day at Winnie

Teens enjoying Yukicon at Mont Belvieu

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!

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