Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath may have shut down the Energy Corridor’s popular Kendall Library, but the devastation isn’t holding it back from keeping a vital community presence.
On Thursday mornings, Kendall’s Leona Hoegsberg, senior youth library service specialist, has been holding kids’ storytelling sessions, partnering with Blue Willow Bookshop, 14532 Memorial Drive, in the Energy Corridor.
Kendall’s loyal book lovers know Hoegsberg well. She served them at Kendall for 12 years until flooding shut it down.
“Kendall was a very busy library; we were hoppin’,” says Hoegsberg. “I still come to Blue Willow Bookshop each week to help with their story time and connect with my patrons in the Energy Corridor. I love that area and miss the chance to service our patrons at the library each day.”
And despite the closure, the Houston Public Library recently held a festive block party for Kendall fans at Bear Creek Park, part of the library’s summer reading program. Families enjoyed crafts, games and performers like Tom’s Fun Dance, Roly the Clown and Bubbles by Sky Blue Fun Times. A stately horse visited, courtesy of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, while James Coney Island filled the hungry crowd with hot dogs.
Facing significant flooding damage – with recovery estimated to cost $5 million by the City of Houston – Kendall Library’s reopening will take time. But, Houston Public Library is exploring temporary alternatives to deliver programs, offer book hold pickups and more.
“There is no timetable yet for reimbursement from FEMA or from insurance, so Houston Public Library is working with the (City of Houston) administration to identify ways to fund these costs,” explains John Middleton, Houston Public Library SPACES & communications assistant director. “At this time, we do not have a firm schedule for when the work will be done, but it is unlikely that the Kendall Library will reopen during the current fiscal year.
“Meanwhile, we are working diligently to identify an alternate local facility from which to provide library services to the Kendall community,” says Middleton. “We hope to announce a location in the coming weeks.”
For now, families are invited to Blue Willow Bookshop on Thursday mornings for storytelling. While the sessions are taking a break for August, plans are to kick off storytelling again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 26, at Blue Willow Bookshop. The independent, neighborhood bookstore also offers several activities and regularly brings critically acclaimed authors into the Energy Corridor for talks.
“We do care about that area and want to get back there to meet the needs of the community, because it’s a great place.” Says Hoegsberg.
Houston Public Library also hosts nearby book clubs that Energy Corridor residents are taking part in. Mystery Book Club is held at 1 p.m. the first Thursday of the month at Robinson-Westchase Neighborhood Library, 3223 Wilcrest Drive. Fiction Book Club, also held at Robinson-Westchase Neighborhood Library, takes place at 1 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month.
For more about the Houston Public Library and its programs, visit houstonlibrary.org.
To explore Blue Willow Bookshop’s events, programs, blog posts, book clubs and more, visit www.bluewillowbookshop.com.