The Houston Library is 20 years old

Assistant Librarian Beth Peterson-Lee and Librarian Liz Gibson-Gasset welcome everyone to the Houston Public Library.
Photo by Wanda Hanson

February will be the month of celebration at the Houston Public Library as the library celebrates its 20th birthday. The library began its life in February 2002 in a small house next to the town hall. Four women, Lynn Carr, Barb Swenson, Kim Scheevel Ross and Jean Collette, played a major role in collecting books and furniture for the start-up library.

The library moved to a new location when Acentek donated the current building to the library in the fall of 2002.

In 2006, an accessible bathroom and front door were created. This was done in order to join SELCO (Southeast Libraries Cooperating) and to receive people with disabilities.

In 2011, the library was thoroughly remodeled; the bookshelves purchased from the Caledonia Library were repainted by Connie’s Auto Body as a donation during the conversion.

The library is currently run by Liz Gibson-Gasset librarian and assistant Beth Peterson-Lee. The couple and the library board planned a month-long ceremony for the library.

From 1 February 2022, the library will be open free of charge. Materials for children have been fine throughout the county since 2019; now only items from lost or damaged books and other SELCO libraries that continue to be fined are the only items that can be fined.

Home storytelling packages are provided by the library every Saturday. “B for Books and Birthdays” will be on stock on February 5th; “L is for Library and Love” will be released on February 12th. “R is for read” will be available on February 19; while “S for Stories” will be released on February 26th. The kits include handicrafts and STEM items, and sometimes a book.

Librarian Liz Gibson-Gasset looks at books for patrons and encourages them to sign up for basket gifts.
Photo by Wanda Hanson

The ukulele classes taught by Liz Gibson-Gasset begin on February 3rd. Classes for teens and adults last nine weeks. The ukulels will be available from the library.

Writer and historian Doug Ohman will give a lecture on Monday, February 7, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ohman is the author of a book. Minnesota Libraries published by the MNHS Press and featuring a photo of the Houston Library on the cover.

Two breaker space events will be held from 5pm to 7pm on February 17th and from 10am to 10pm on February 19th. Participants will have the opportunity to disassemble machines and small machines to learn how they work. We welcome children of all ages; Parents are asked to accompany younger children. Masks will be needed.

A quilt draw will take place on February 14, the proceeds of which will be used to support the summer reading program. Janet Kelleher made it again and offered the beautiful quilt for the raffle. Tickets for the raffle will cost $ 2.00 each.

Ten thematic baskets will be awarded this year. The patrons of the library, every time they visit the library, can use all the library services throughout the month and put their name in the container next to their desired basket.

Ukuleles are waiting to check out for ukulele classes.
Photo by Wanda Hanson

Before COVID, the library played with the idea of ​​a conference room or a great presentation room. One idea was to place much of their collection on mobile bookshelves so they could reconfigure the space as needed. The Houston Library’s strategic planning session is due for the next 10 years. Decisions are made by the entire board.

COVID was tough with the library; childhood literacy classes, events, and programs came to a “squeaking halt” to quote Liz.

Liz hopes to be able to rebuild the relationship between the school and the library; would like to remind parents that the library is at their disposal to help them and their children with research and reading.

In the first year of the library’s opening, the number of copies was 7,000. While 34,000 was the highest number of copies, the average is around 30,000 a year. Since COVID, children’s circulation has decreased by 60%; adult circulation is again close to average.

Liz loves her job; likes to recommend and share books, music, and movies. He says his work is fun, creative work. “I’ll be creative and think about what we’re going to do next! It’s a pleasure to watch the kids grow! ”

As part of his work, he seeks out grants to support the library; SELCO and the Legacy program are the main resources. Grateful that SELCO provides all the rich resources for small libraries. County libraries created small libraries in the county and established a historical treasure hunt.

Liz asks, “What do people want from us?” He sees the purpose of the library as serving the community. The library will help you collect for local food shelves and school coat collection. The popularity of digital books has grown recently; Liz wonders what new resources people will be looking for in the library.

Be sure to stop by and help the Houston Library celebrate its 20th birthday this month!

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