Friday, November 2, 2012

Doing It For Ourselves--- and our Library!

I'm a child of the 80's. I can't help it if I draw inspiration from that decade, even if it's just for post titles. Plus who doesn't love an Annie Lenox/Aretha Franklin duet? .... but that's not what this is about.

So... some of you may remember a little contest put on by Lego a few months ago called Read.Build.Play. Our own Heights library branch was in 2nd place behind a little town in North Carolina called Mt Airy. The neighborhood rallied and tried to get us past Mt Airy to bring the $5k prize to the Heights. Local writer Martin Hajovsky put out a plea for more votes in his Home In The Heights column. The column included some (I thought obvious) tongue-in-cheek comments about the little town that inspired Mayberry. Not everyone thought it was amusing, leading a reporter in Mt Airy to take a cheap shot at our community, Martin, and our library, all well claiming "I’m not going to sit here and slam the competition."  

The Mt Airy News's piece was frustrating to many of us because we knew that the Heights branch is one of many libraries in the Houston system and that, with each community trying to support their own, we couldn't count on our whole metro area to vote for the Heights. We were not going to have the population of 2million backing us as Mt Airy suggested. (NOTE: I did have many wonderful friends who live outside the Heights and helped by casting votes on a daily basis. Thanks to all of them). Still, we are a community of over 45,000 neighbors, so we thought we stood a chance.

Mt Airy's gorgeous new library, designed by the Mazria  architecture firm. 

The Heights voted. We were in first place. Then it was neck and neck. Then, Mt Airy started passing us at an incredible rate. At first some people thought news coverage had garnered them support from outside their community, but this pattern of 5-10 votes every time folks refreshed their screen continued for days. Heights folks got frustrated as their votes were outpaced sometimes 10 to 1 by Mt Airy. In the end, Mt Airy won with over 100k votes to the Heights' roughly 47,000.

But this is the Heights. Residents here don't give up on their community. Local parent and supporter of the library, Stephanie Riceman, quickly started to navigate the bureaucracy of the HPL system. She started at the Heights branch, working with Ms Sara, the children's librarian, and Pat Jones, the head librarian. At the same time Carrie Noxon, another local mom, was in touch with Maya Houston, the Executive Director of the Houston Library Foundation. Through separate channels, the two women were able to get a special donation account set up for the Heights library branch. 

The Heights Library

To date, a few local families have been able to contribute a total of $750 to the Heights branch, which will be used primarily for the children's area to purchase books, toys or whatever else Ms Sara needs. She is known by many community members to be highly resourceful so good things are expected to happen with whatever is contributed. Still, $750 is a far cry from $5000 that we could have gotten from Lego.

Please consider making a donation to the Heights library today. This opportunity to give directly to our own branch hasn't always existed but is the result of many hours and many emails on the part of community members and library personnel. Every dollar counts and, while the library has been incredibly grateful for the money received so far, we all know we can do better! Even if every member of this community only donated $1, we could pass the Lego prize seven times over. Wouldn't that be amazing to see?

To make a donation, PRINT THIS DONATION FORM and mail it with a check to:

Houston Public Library Foundation
500 McKinney
Houston, Texas 77002

Make your checks out to: Houston Public Library Foundation
Specify: This donation is intended for the Heights Neighborhood Library - Juvenile Services

NOTE: You can donate to the HPL system on line but that donation will NOT be earmarked for the Heights branch.

The Houston Public Library Foundation has cleared the way to donate online on their page, and still channel your donation, if specified, to the Heights Neighborhood Library.

1. Start here and choose your amount:

2. On the Make Your Payment page, in the "Other" field, enter "Heights - Kids Group".

Or make a check out to: Houston Public Library Foundation
Specify: This donation is intended for the Heights Neighborhood Library - Juvenile Services. 
Houston Public Library Foundation
500 McKinney
Houston, TX 77002

This is such an amazing opportunity! Please do what you can to support our beautiful library and all that is does for the children in our neighborhood!


  1. Awesome read. Really enjoy your blog, I've been looking for a few months for a nice inside scoop of the heights since I moved here, so thanks for your time! I will definitely be taking my son to the library soon.

    1. Glad to help, Ally. It's a wonderful neighborhood. WELCOME to you and your family.

  2. I sent off a check this morning. Thanks for putting this out and thanks too for everyone who helped put this together.