Everett Smithson Band!

Don’t forget to get this on your calendars!  The Everett Smithson band will be out in the library’s greenspace on Monday, June 26th from 7 to 8 pm as part of our ongoing series of Monday night events during our 2017 Summer Reading Program.  This one-hour musical celebration will feature Zydeco, Blues, Hillbilly Hoedowns, and more.  In addition, Everett believes in the importance of keeping his music alive  —  and will do so by teaching up to  50 kids how to play the harmonica at the end of his performance in a special 30 minute class!  Kids get to keep the harmonica, too!

One last thing: since our Summer Reading theme this year is “Build A Better World,” please bring an item for the Houston Community Food Shelf to donate at this free event, if you are able.  Let’s make our community a better place while we are all having fun!

This event was made possible by a SELCO Vetted Performer Grant, with funds from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund!  Questions?  Call the library at 896-READ.

Summer Storytimes!

Here is a list of our upcoming Saturday Morning Storytimes, which take place from 10 to 11 am each week in our children’s room.  Hope to see you then.

Saturday, July 1st:  Fourth of July

Saturday, July 8th:  Puppies!

Saturday, July 15th:  Musician and children’s author Gregg Hall out in our greenspace!

Saturday, July 22nd:  Sea Creatures

Saturday, July 29th:  Vacations

Saturday, August 5th:  Stars

Saturday, August 12th:  Beat the Heat

Saturday, August 19th:  Art Fun

Saturday, August 26th:  Apollo Music Festival at storytime!

Saturday, September 2nd:  Back to School

Saturday, September 9th;  Grandparents’ Day




The first phase of our Little Free Library project is completed, with five beautifully decorated structures back from their assigned artists, on display at the library, and ready to be put into action around the city of Houston early this summer!   On Monday, June 19th, we’ll be hosting an official Launch Party out in our greenspace next to the Little Free Library that will be installed there.  The four others will be installed at the time in the city park, the Nature Center, the Owen Onsgard Court, and the new ballfield.  Thanks to the talents of Liz Micheel, Diane Crane, Mary Thompson, Denise Rostad, Ann Kramer, and Judy Schultz for painting this Little Free Libraries for us.  Thanks also to the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund for providing the funding for this project. 


Learn about music, art, magic, astronomy, volunteer projects, and more during the Houston Public Library’s special Summer Reading events this summer, as we “Build A Better World” together! All events take place in the library or outside in the library’s greenspace, unless otherwise indicated.  In case of inclement weather, some outside events will take place over at the Houston Community Center. Give us a call at 896-READ when in doubt.  And one last thing: please bring an item for the Houston Community Food Shelf if you attend one of our free events.  Let’s make our own community a better place while we’re having fun!

Monday, June 19th from 7 to 8 pmLITTLE FREE LIBRARY LAUNCH PARTY!  Thanks to a SELCO grant from the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, we’re installing five Little Free Libraries right here in the city of Houston. Come help us celebrate with the artists who decorated them —  and a little cake, balloon-making with Kevin Lindh, and some chalk art on the side.  Take a book or make the world a better place by bringing and leaving a book!

Monday, June 26th from 7 to 8 pm: EVERETT SMITHSON BAND!  This one hour musical celebration will feature Zydeco, Blues, Hillbilly Hoedowns, and more. In addition, Everett believes in the importance of keeping the blues alive— and will do so by teaching up to 50 kids how to play the harmonica at the end of his performance in a special 30 minute class! Kids get to keep the harmonica, too!

Monday, July 3rd from 7 to 8 pm:  RECYCLED ART!  Let’s see how you can turn a bag full of recyclable objects into art! In the spirit of encouraging kids to make the world a better place by reducing, reusing, and recycling, we’ll be giving each participant a bag of mystery ingredients with which to create a work of art and just 30 minutes in which to do it.  Join in on the fun!

Monday, July 10th from 7 to 8 pm:   BOOK ART WITH PAM O’HARA!Come and learn some clever ways of making books using simple supplies! Pam will have everything assembled for you to make your own books using a little origami, some folding and gluing, and some sewing. We’ll use pretty paper, office supplies, stickers, and canceled stamps.  You’ll go home with about 5 completed small book projects  — and the inspiration and skills it takes to make many more.  Recommended for kids going into 2nd grade and up!

Monday, July 17th from 2 to 3 pm: DRAWING CLASS WITH GARY HARBO at the Community Center!  To build a better world in a physical sense requires machines that are designed to do powerful jobs, such as bulldozers to build roads, semi-trucks to haul products to market, tractors to plant and harvest crops, airplanes and trains to move people, as well as cranes to build schools, city buildings, and skyscrapers. In this one hour art lesson, Gary will teach students how to draw machines that have been invented to make a better world for all of us.  Recommended for kids going into 2nd grade and up!

Monday, July 24th from 7 to 8 pm: MAGIC SHOW WITH GREG THE GREAT!  Let’s explore the amazing world of magic together as Greg the Great levitates, causes members of the audience to float, cuts his assistant in half, and makes animals appear, disappear, reappear, and even transform! This family-friendly show features Greg’s blend of comedy and magic with lots of audience interaction.

Monday, August 7th from 2 to 3 pm: STARLAB PLANETARIUM at the elementary school gym!Ever wonder about that mysterious big world up above us in the sky? Join us for an exciting STARLAB program, featuring an inflatable planetarium that showcase 3,000 stars of different colors and sizes, as well as the constellations. Space is limited to 60 people so don’t be late!

Monday, August 14th from 7 to 8 pm:  PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER SLIDESHOW!  What’s it like to live and work as a Peace Corp volunteer in a very different part of the world? Find out as former Peace Corps Volunteers share slideshows and stories about their life-changing years of service.

Monday, August 21st from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm:  CELESTIAL EVENT/SOLAR ECLIPSE PARTY!  On August 21st, the shadow of the moon will sweep across the sun and the USA in a spectacle that hasn’t occurred in 99 years!  In celebration of the solar eclipse, we’ll be hosting a “viewing party” complete with 200 pairs of official viewing glasses, thanks to Eclipse Education Kits provided by  STAR_Net’s NASA@ My Library Initiative. Come join us in the library greenspace, weather permitting! Bring your own blanket, pillow, or chair to make your viewing experience more comfortable!

Saturday, August 26th from 10 to 11 am:  STORYTIME WITH THE APOLLO MUSIC FESTIVAL We host storytime at the library every Saturday morning from 10-11 am all year round, but we only have professional musicians and their instruments as our guests once a year — when the Apollo Music Festival is in town!  Stop by for an informal and fun way to introduce your kids to the world of classical music.  You’ll be glad you did!

This year’s Summer Reading Program is sponsored by the Friends of the Houston Public Library, a grant from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, HARC, SELCO Legacy grants, the Apollo Music Festival, Sub-Zero Pizza and Ice Cream, memorials in honor of Teresa & Banjo Erickson and Illa Sweet, and a generous donation from Jayne & Jim Gilmer.  




SUMMER READING 2017: Build A Better World

Reading is a way for all of us to escape and inhabit worlds other than the one we live in everyday. But books can also introduce us to new concepts and ideas, in turn fueling the creativity and innovation necessary to change the world we do live in. At the Houston Public Library during our 2017 Summer Reading Program, we’ll explore ways to make our world a more interesting, fun, accessible, sustainable, and beautiful place through books and activities.  We’d like to invite your kids and grandkids to participate in “Building a Better World” with us.

Every Monday afternoon or evening, we’ll be hosting special events showcasing people who have found a way to make the world a better place. You can pick up a list of events at the library or check out our Facebook page and/or website later for more information. In addition, on Thursday nights from 6 to 7 pm, we’ll have our popular Bookhound Program going on in our children’s room.  And don’t forget to look for our Book Bike as library staff pedal it around town to meet up with kids at outdoor events in town this summer, facilitating their access to reading materials during these busy months.

We are NOT doing reading logs this year (to help make the world a better place for parents and kids like), but will instead offer weekly challenges for kids that may be turned in anytime during the summer to be entered into weekly drawings for Barnes & Noble gift certificates. And remember:  starting Monday, June 5th, the first 100 kids to stop in and pick up one of these weekly challenge sheets this year will receive a free book bag!  Stop by the library while supplies last!

The Houston Public Library’s 2017 Summer Reading Program, which runs from Monday, June 5th through Saturday, August 26th, is sponsored by the Friends of the Houston Public Library, HARC, Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, SELCO’s Legacy Grant Program, Sub-Zero Pizza & Ice Cream, memorials in honor of Teresa & Banjo Erickson and Illa Sweet, and a generous donation from Jayne & Jim Gilmer. It is open to all children, preschool through young adult, with games, prizes, drawings, story hours, and more. Remember:  kids who read (or are read to) over the summer keep their brains active, entering school in the fall ready to learn and succeed.  We hope that your family will take advantage of the free materials and services provided by your local libraries over the course of this coming summer.

If you or your child would like a library card, please stop by during our regular hours of operation with your current Minnesota’s Driver’s License.  Now that we are fully automated and part of the online SELCO system, we require this piece of current photo identification from a child’s mother, father, or legal guardian to issue a library card.  By providing this information, you accept responsibility for any overdue fines, damage charges, or replacement costs that your child may incur.    Please call 507-896-READ or stop by the library at 202 East Cedar if you have any questions!




 If you stop by, walk by, or drive by the Houston Public Library anytime soon, you’ll notice we are coming to the end of a little exterior renovation project. Over the few years, we’ve experienced some periodic interior water damage due to the deteriorating brick and mortar on the south and east sides of the building, a situation aggrevated by a lack of an overhanging roof protecting those walls. As a result, we’ve long been planning to strip, insulate, add in a moisture barrier, put up siding, and extend the roof-line! The Library Board has been putting aside funds out of our operational budget for the past six years for this project — and our Friends’ group contributed as well. Back in February, Caledonia Lumber officially got started on the rehab, finishing up a few weeks later.  This past weekend, thanks to some beautiful weather and a hard-working volunteer, our outside storage shed and metal doors on the south and west sides all got a fresh coat of paint.  We still have an overhead panel to paint brown on the west side and we’d like to get another sign with our hours of operation posted on the east side, but the bulk of the work is finally completed, whew!.  With kids at storytime planting our Community Container Gardens early in May, we’ll bring this project to an end just in time to focus our energies on our 2017 Summer Reading Program. 




Wonder what we are going to be up to at our Saturday Morning Storytimes in the near future?  Here’s a list!  Our children’s storytimes are gear for kids 0-8, but all ages are welcome to attend.

Saturday, May 13th:  Gardening

Saturday, May 20th:  Guinea Pigs

Saturday, May 27th:  Families

Saturday, June 3rd:  Underground Adventures

Saturday, June 10th:  Surprise!

Saturday, June 17th:  Father’s Day

Saturday, June 24th;  Move to the Music!

Farm Equipment of Yesteryear with Doug Ohman

Step back in time to when the family farm was one of the cornerstones of American agriculture. On Monday, April 10th at 7 pm at the Houston Public Library, author and photographer Doug Ohman will take you on a visual tour of older farming equipment that has become obsolete in the modern age. His pictures and stories will be enjoyed by all those who remember their youth growing up in rural America. Doug Ohman is a popular speaker, storyteller, and photographer with strong roots in Minnesota. His popular Minnesota Byways series of six books contains images of Minnesota’s natural beauty and its rich history. His work has been widely published in magazine and calendars as well. Doug tells the stories behind his pictures with humor and insight, making the photos come to life for his audience. He also tells the story of how he combined his passion for history and his love of photography into a successful career. This event was made possible through the SELCO Winter Author Tour, funded in part by the MInnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

StoryWalk: Owl Moon

In celebration of the 15th Annual International Festival of Owls on March 3rd through 5th, the Houston Public Library is hosting our 2nd official StoryWalk, this time featuring “Owl Moon” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by John Schoenherr.

What in the world is a StoryWalk? Well, imagine you and your kids are walking around downtown Houston and all along the way you keep coming across pages from a children’s picture book mounted in the windows of local businesses.  Before you know it, you’re reading a story as you go!  The concept of a StoryWalk was developed in 2007 by Anne Ferguson of Montpellier, Vermont, with the goal of “combining three critical elements for overall family health:  early literacy learning, family engagement outdoors, and physical activity.”

Our StoryWalk begins on the front door of the Houston Public Library, crosses over Sherman Street to the International Owl Center, heads around the corner and over to Maple Street, turns onto Grant, then finishes back up on Cedar Street — so basically a trip around Houston’s busiest commercial block.  As the pages of “Owl Moon” are prominently displayed in front windows and doors and are clearly visible from the sidewalk, you can go about your own StoryWalk at any time of day or night!

Have fun on your StoryWalk– and don’t forget to support Houston’s local businesses that are making this event possible. Questions?  Call the library at 507-896-READ!