Observations from a visit to the Houston Public Library

September 17, 2009
I was in Houston with my kids several weeks ago.  One of my children actually isn’t a child anymore as evidenced by the fact that he went to Houston to stay for a year and I was merely a sightseer.  But that’s another post, in another blog, I think.    (I just can’t think of a way to weave a discussion of a parent’s  complex set of emotions while emptying the nest into a library expansion blog.  Maybe if I wasn’t so tired from my “vacation” I could, but I’m coming up short at the moment.)

Back to the point.  On one of our days exploring Houston, we went to the public library.  (Doesn’t everybody drag their kids to the library while traveling?)

It was great timing to see the Houston Public Library because these days I’m in search of good ideas for our library building. 

With thanks to the Houston Public Library for a great experience and their warm hospitality!  Here is what I observed in Houston:

  • Underground parking onsite…for a price.  It only took three trips around the building for me to realize I wasn’t going to find free parking anywhere.  If I wanted to see the library, I needed to open up my wallet.
  • A large computer area with dozens and dozens of computers for people to use…and a waiting line for booking them.  They looked to be a precious commodity, very well-used.
  • A coffee shop in the entry area, it was very brightly lit and in a great location.  I would have loved to sample a cup of java but my kids were more interested in exploring than sitting.
  • A very friendly staff.   It always make such a difference in a library.  Kudos to the library for remembering how important it is to make people feel welcome…even visitors whose only contribution is a few bucks for the parking.
  • A teen area that had a striking entry wall (as seen in the photo below) covered with the words (in a variety of languages) that meant this was a meeting place and displaying a sign that made it clear it was their meeting place…not a place for adults or younger kids.  (I did peek in, I must admit, and saw some very futuristic chairs that my daughter made sure I knew I wasn’t supposed to try.)
Houston Public Library young adult entrance

Houston Public Library teen entrance

Our staff and board members have visited quite a number of  libraries during our years of planning.  We’ve got a few more left to see.  We’re now far enough into our planning that we have specific things we’re looking to examine in action, including an operational RFID system.  We’re not going to far away places (there’s no budget for that) but it’ll be an adventure just the same!  I’m a firm believer in learning from others.   

One comment

  1. The futuristic chairs are gaming chairs that have speakers built into them and are routed through PS3s.

    Craig Bertuglia
    Senior Library Services Specialist
    Central Branch Teen Room
    Houston Public Library

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