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

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

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

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