| Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Public Library (HPL) have announced a plan to reopen three neighborhood libraries with limited access and services. Following extensive damage from Hurricane Harvey, the McCrane-Kashmere Gardens and Flores Neighborhood Libraries, and the new Dixon TechLink powered by Aramco will welcome community members by the end of January 2021.
Through the support of Houston City Council and thanks to generous donations from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Aramco, each location has undergone significant transformations and will feature updated finishes, furniture, and community areas, as well as expanded access to technology and enhanced resources.
“Libraries bring families together, build strong readers, and serve as an essential resource. That is why I am thrilled we are reopening the three library locations, which have been the heart of their communities for many years,” said Mayor Turner. “The locations have bounced back from a major hurricane and survived during a global pandemic. Once again, Houston is demonstrating its strength and resilience.”
“With a strong library as a community anchor, the possibilities are endless – even during a pandemic. We are thrilled that these three libraries are reopening with curbside access to books, technology, and other resources,” said Dr. Rhea Lawson, HPL Director. “We look forward to resuming a full complement of services and programs at all our libraries as soon as possible.”
The virtual reopening event for McCrane-Kashmere Gardens will take place January 11 at 11 a.m., Flores on January 12 at 10 a.m., and Dixon on January 28 at 11 a.m. The community is invited to view the ribbon-cutting events on the HPL Facebook page.
Mayor Turner is scheduled to attend the virtual celebrations. He will be joined by the HPL Director, Houston Public Library Foundation Chair, UAE and Aramco donor partners, city council members, and neighborhood presidents representing the communities where the libraries reside. Community members may attend the virtual reopening events and get a sneak peek of each location via a virtual tour that will be featured on the HPL Facebook page.
Although all three libraries were closed due to damages from Hurricane Harvey, essential library services and resources remained accessible to the public via the HPL Mobile Express technology library and through temporary locations stationed at Houston Health Department Multi-Service Centers.
This support helped give stability to residents affected by the storm and anchored those who had been displaced through the provision of services and resources that they might not have received elsewhere. The Texas Library Association recognized the Library’s imaginative approach to supporting the community and awarded the Kashmere Neighborhood Library with the Texas Library Association Libraries Change Communities Award in 2019.
Since the onset of COVID-19, HPL has continued serving Houston’s communities by reimagining services and programs, such as Camp STREAM and its Summer Reading Program, in the virtual realm.
This has created an opportunity to elevate the public library’s profile in its role as a community contributor and provide new skills and knowledge for team members to utilize beyond COVID-19.
These library reopenings are part of HPL’s recent progressive efforts and follow national recognition for other HPL initiatives that have made a significant community impact during the pandemic.
From Mayor Turner receiving the Coalition on Adult Basic Education’s 2020 Adult Education Leadership Award for the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy under the oversight of HPL, to the library receiving the 2020 Urban Libraries Council Innovation Award for its Liftoff to Learning initiative in partnership with KHOU, the Houston Public Library continues to bridge the gap for Houston’s communities.