Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Back to school!

Chambers County 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 today! 

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 running. 

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 12. 

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. 

Until next month!

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!


Another record year!

Chambers County Library System – July, 2014

Summer Reading Snapshot:

Books read – up 87%
Children’s enrollment – up 9%
Teen enrollment – up 15%
Program attendance (kids) – up 20%
Program attendance (teens) – up 4%
Overall circulation – up 29%

46,371 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 it. 

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 shape. 

And finally, 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!


Summer Reading is in full swing!

Chambers County Library System – June, 2014

I love to brag about our library and the great team we have.  We all work very hard to provide the public with the best service possible.  One of our most anticipated and fun times of the year is our annual Summer Reading Program.  We spend several months planning and preparing for summer, and our efforts tend to pay off each year.  Over the past few weeks we have managed to enroll over 1,000 kids and teens in the program, and right at 5,000 people attended programs during the first 3 weeks.  We checked out 49,830 items last month including print and electronic, making it the largest circulating month in the library’s history.  That’s something Chambers County should be proud of! 

Summer started off with “Kickoff Week”, designed to encourage signups while offering different activities the first week of Summer Reading.  If you were anywhere near the library you might have seen Sheriff Hawthorne passing out sno-cones, the Chuck-e-Cheese mouse, Chick-fil-a Cow, Mad Scientist Librarians, Balloons and Cotton candy, and much more!  The buildings and parking lots were filled to capacity with kids and their parents eager to get the summer started. 
The weekly programs we have for kids, teens, and adults involves the time and talents of library staff, volunteers, and/or paid performers.  The Friends of the Chambers County Library System are the major underwriters for our summer program, along with county funds, and donations that the staff solicits during our planning phase of the year.  Without the help of these people, our program could not continue to grow in size and popularity.  One of our new programs this year was the Texas A&M Chemistry Roadshow.  Their goal is to entertain and educate through science.  Their program definitely fell in line with our theme of, FIZZ, BOOM, READ! with over an hour of non-stop science experiments.  They’ll be performing in Mont Belvieu on July 8, at 2pm if you want to check them out. 

The library’s eBook and audiobook service, Overdrive, held a challenge to see if libraries could increase their highest circulating month by 25%.  If so, we would receive $1500 in content credit to purchase additional titles.  Of course we love a challenge, so I told the staff to really push the eBook and audiobook services during the month of June with the hopes we just might hit a peak month.  We needed 755 downloads to reach that goal and we did it!  Our total checkouts for June was 765, which gives us credit to purchase popular titles for all ages.  And we welcome your title requests!

County Librarian Valerie Jensen and Assistant County Librarian Annie Vass attended the monthly library design meeting for the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library in Mont Belvieu.  Annie and I have been working closely with the group to narrow down floor plans and designs.  We’ve also been getting feedback from the Mont Belvieu staff about what they want for the new building.  So much goes into library space planning and design, and it’s such a fun process. 

Adults at Anahuac attended a program presented by Bayou City Paranormal.  Representatives from the group came to share their findings of investigations they did of the Chamber Home, Library, and Dr. Schilling’s office.  The program was standing room only with the group enjoying audio and video clips captured by members of the group.  Want to know if the library is haunted?  Or if General Chambers still looks out his window?  Or if Dr. Schilling has some unfinished business at his office?  Stop by the library and ask one of the staff to share the stories with you.  The next adult programs at Anahuac will take place July 17 at 5:30 with Jim Catalina teaching the basics of wine-making.  And on July 29th at 5:30 for “Painting with a Twist!”  Registration required.  Call 409-267-2554 to sign up and visit us at

Until next month!


The calm before the storm....

Chambers County Library System – May, 2014

It’s the calm before the storm as we head into our annual Summer Reading Program.  May is the time of year where we scramble to make sure all our months and months of preparation have paid off.  The staff has worked so hard on this year’s summer activities and we’re looking forward to another banner year!  The branches have done a fantastic job with their decorations this year – if you haven’t seen the walls covered in scientists, slime, and robots, you need to stop by; it’s definitely worth a look!  The theme this year is FIZZ, BOOM, READ! for the kids, Spark a Reaction for the teens, and Literary Elements for the adults.  There’s definitely something for everyone this year.  The fun starts June 9th so sign up early and read often!

With storytime ending the week of the 5th, the libraries still had time to throw in some fun programs.  Each branch had their usual movie nights and teen programs, while the adults continued with their book club meetings.  One of the highlights in May was the kickoff meeting for the new Sam and Carmena Goss Memorial Branch Library.  Several representatives from the County, City, Friends of CCLS, and Barbers Hill ISD were in attendance to get their first glimpse at some possibilities for design and floor plans.  The chosen architect is just as excited as we are!  It seems unreal to be at this point when it’s been in the talking phases for so long.  Definitely some goose bumps in that meeting!  After the initial kickoff meeting, things will start to move fast, and we’re more than ready to keep up with their pace.  On the 16th the County Librarian took several staff members on a “field trip” to area libraries.  It was a time for us to see how other buildings were laid out, how they function with staffing, and get some ideas for our new building.  Needless to say we came back with some great input from the very accommodating librarians who shared their beautiful buildings with us.   We ended up being very partial to the Evelyn Meador library in Seabrook.  It was beautiful and exactly the style we’re aiming for.   

Pride in our Young Adults at Anahuac should be felt by all our citizens.  For over 3 months, teens at the library planned and executed “Ana-Con,” a small anime conference which was held on Saturday, May 17th from 1pm-7pm.  Around 75 youth attended from as far away as Hamshire Fannett; they heard about it at the Winnie library and just had to see what it was all about.  The event was very successful and special thanks to LaShebia Haskin for her guidance and encouragement of the teens.    

During the month of May the staff did quite a bit of outreach at the local schools, day cares, and other organizations.  This time of year the public is eager to hear about upcoming activities we have planned for the summer.  The schools look forward to the fun presentations done by the staff to get kids excited about reading!

GED and ESL classes continue to be thriving at the Anahuac branch.  Thanks to the Anahuac Municipal Development District for their funding, the program continues with students eager to continue their education.  Teacher Katherine Wilkins is doing a fantastic job of encouraging the students and it shows in the attendance. 

Speaking of encouraging students, the ongoing after-school tutorials at Anahuac which is supported by Anahuac ISD and United Way of Greater Baytown and Chambers County came to an end with the last day of school.  We are happy to report that of the students who attended tutorials, 9 of the kids met their reading and math standard.  These are kids who had never met those standards before.  Their test scores also went up 200 points which was a great outcome considering the STAAR test just ended.  Special thanks to all the volunteers who spared their valuable time to help the kids.  It was definitely worth the time and effort and we’re looking forward to next school year. 

The Library Advisory Board met on the 17th.  They had a several policies given by County Librarian, Valerie Jensen to discuss for update and approval.  The Advisory Board meets 4 times a year, and is composed of 7 members residing across the county. 

Until next month!

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