“We see our centennial as a celebration of the history of Harris County as a whole and especially of the everyday people who shaped that history.”
In 1921 Lucy Fuller, Harris County Public Library’s (HCPL) first head librarian, was provided $6,500 with which to stock library stations in post offices, schools, businesses, and private homes across the county. On hundred years later, her successors preside over a collection exceeding 1.8 million items. HCPL libraries house computers, 3D printers, laser cutters, and family learning centers. HCPL provides thousands of programs annually ranging from story times and cooking classes to escape rooms and variety shows.
Harris County Commissioners Court plans to proclaim 2021 the Year of the Library in Harris County in recognition of the library’s first one hundred years and its commitment to remain a vital and vibrant asset for the people of Harris County.
“We see our centennial as a celebration of the history of Harris County as a whole and especially of the everyday people who shaped that history,” said Edward Melton, HCPL’s executive director. “The growth, progress, and innovation you see in the library’s story over its first one hundred years mirrors that of Harris County.”
HCPL plans a yearlong celebration of its first one-hundred years and the people who shaped and continue to shape it. In preparation for the centennial, HCPL librarians have begun collecting and digitizing materials to document the library’s history. Their efforts resulted in the HCPL Digital Archive, a collection of photos, articles, scrapbooks, and videos of HCPL since 1921. Each month this year, the archive will present digital exhibits to tell a specific story. It will also feature each of HCPL’s twenty-six branches with detailed timelines that trace the library’s century-long commitment to serve Harris County residents.
Libraries change lives in big and small ways, notes the library’s blog. HCPL staff knows this because people tell them about how an HCPL literacy tutor or just the right book at the right time has changed their lives for the better. In conjunction with the digital-archive project, the library will begin to systematically collect those stories.
Early in 2021, the library will launch an initiative modeled on National Public Radio’s StoryCorps. Patrons will record their stories with help from HCPL staff on Microsoft Teams and the library will collect and publish them via social media and the HCPL website.
HCPL’s Programming Department and staff have been planning for the centennial celebration for months. Each month in 2021, the library will release a new original video highlighting each decade of the library’s existence. To go along with the in-house productions, the library plans to host live music performances—online for now—by local and national acts. In February for African American History Month, in partnership with Apollo Chamber Players, two nationally known composers, Paul Cornish and Damien Snead, will debut musical pieces in celebration of the library’s first one hundred years.
For more information about Harris County Public Library’s Centennial Celebration, visit www.hcpl.net and follow @harriscountypl on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.