BACK TO THE LIBRARY POST #3: Interlibrary Loans through MNLink

The Houston Public Library contains over 24,000 items available for check-out; the SELCO system contains over 1 million. Yet sometimes, even that is not enough to let our library patrons find exactly what they are looking for!

Thankfully, in Minnesota we have a third option: MNLink, a statewide interlibrary system which shares the physical catalogs, as well as electronic resources, of most libraries in Minnesota, free of charge. MNLink contains everything from K-12 collections to research collections, including online databases. It is a joint project of the Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries, with State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education, providing additional funding to support these services for Minnesota libraries and library users. Questions about how or when to use MNLink to find the books or information you are searching for? Give us a call at 896-READ.

BACK TO THE LIBRARY POST #2: Interlibrary Loans via SELCO

Your Houston Public Library card gives you access not only to over 24,000 items here in our building, but also to the collections of 35 other public libraries and 27 school libraries, all located the 11 Minnesota counties which form the SELCO (South Eastern Libraries Cooperating) region — a total of over 1,085,795 titles! Again, all free of charge.

We receive deliveries of items requested by our patrons through interlibrary loan five days per week. Here’s a photo of our regular delivery driver, Christopher, who (just like a mailman) makes it down here from Rochester despite the seasonal challenges of Midwestern weather. For the record, we are always happy to order items for our patrons, but if you are interested in exploring the online catalog, get out your library card and go to Questions? Give us a call at 896-READ.


September is National Literacy Month and National Library Card Sign-up Month. Did you know that your free Houston Public Library card gives you immediate access to over 24,000 items right here in our little library, all at no cost? All you need to register for a library card is a Minnesota Driver’s License or non-driving ID. The process takes about three minutes — and opens the door to a world of free movies, books, audiobooks, and other resources for you and your family. Questions? Give us a call at 896-READ.

Back to the Library

I always think of September as Back-To-School month, but it is also National Literacy Month, National Library Card Sign-up Month, Read A New Book Month, and contains Banned Books Week! We’ll be celebrating all four here at the Houston Public Library with daily posts featuring library services that you may or may not know about. Stay tuned for “Back-To-the-Library” posts!

Library CLOSED for Labor Day weekend

The Houston Public Library will be CLOSED on Saturday, September 3rd and Monday, September 5th in observance of Labor Day weekend. Our regular hours of operation resume on Tuesday, September 6th. Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone! We hope to see you on Tuesday.

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CLOSED on Fourth of July!

The Houston Public Library will be CLOSED on Monday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. Have a safe and happy holiday, everyone. We’ll see you on Tuesday when our regular hours of operation resume.


It doesn’t feel like summer (or even spring) yet, but it is never too early too get some of the library’s 2022 Summer Reading Events onto your busy calendar. Learn about reptiles, raptors, and more during as we “READ BEYOND THE BEATEN PATH.”

  • All events take place from 10-11 am, with the exception of the CHIONE QUINTET (9:30-10:30 am). 
  • In case of bad weather, city park performances will take place at the Houston Community Center, while outdoor library events will take place inside our children’s room.
  • For all outdoor events, please bring your own blankets/ lawn chairs to make your viewing experience more comfortable, as we will NOT be providing seating. 
  • Don’t forget that our Wednesday partners, Meet Up & Eat Up, will be distributing free bagged lunches to local kids ages 18 and under at the city park just after our events.  Show up for the fun from 10-11 am, stay for lunch, which is available from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm, while supplies last.  This free lunch program is also available on Mondays at the same time and place.
  • All event times, locations, and pandemic protocols are subject to change.  Give us a call at 896-READ if you have any questions! 

Saturday, June 11th:  CHIONE QUIINTET in the library greenspace, from 9:30 am – 10:30 am Join us for the kick-off to our 2022 Summer Reading Program, as we host the Chione Quintet for a morning of music! Their new musical storytime program centers around the book, “Shoua and the Northern Lights Dragon,” written by Ka Vang and illustrated by Aimee Haggerty Johnson. The program will also include instrument demonstrations and allow questions from the audience.

Wednesday, June 15th:  SEARCHING FOR HIDDEN TREASURE with Doug Ohman at the city park Search for buried treasure over at our city park with Doug Ohman, Minnesota author, speaker, and historian.  Doug will be bringing his metal detectors for kids and their adults to use, along with interesting artifacts he has found over the years for kids to examine.  Nothing brings local history to life faster for kids than actual relics from the past found in our present! 

Saturday, June 18th:  THE MAGIC OF CELTIC MUSIC with Laura MacKenzie in library greenspace Start your Saturday out with a delightful spectrum of Celtic music played on an extraordinary variety of traditional wind-powered instruments. In a program intriguing to both kids and adults, we’ll learn how air is transformed into music. 

Wednesday, June 22nd: CREATURE TEACHER, Tom Pederson, at the city park Stop by for a fun and educational one-hour presentation featuring live frogs, lizards, turtles, and snakes from around the world with Critter Camp Instructor and retired teacher, Tom Pederson from Lake City, MN.

Saturday, June 25th:  POP-UP TINKERGARTEN with Brenda Grupe in the library greenspace Enjoy simple, thoughtful, and engaging activities, all outside and kid-focused with a Pop-Up Tinkergarten experience at our Saturday Morning Storytime!  Tinkergarten curriculum is designed to help kids develop key skills:  wellness, problem solving, empathy, communication, focus, persistence, and creativity, all while having fun in an outdoor setting.  Stop by and take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about the program.

Wednesday, June 29th: SNAKES OF MINNESOTA at the city park Sixteen of Minnesota’s seventeen kinds of snakes live in the Blufflands, including the timber rattlesnake.  Learn how we can live, work, and play in the southeastern Minnesota while still protecting these awesome creatures.  Sara Holger, naturalist at Whitewater State Park, will be with us to share interesting information about area snakes, important and often misunderstood members of our local ecosystem. We’ll also have the opportunity to get up close to and touch a fox snake, as well as observe a timber rattlesnake (from behind plastic, of course)!

Saturday, July 2nd:   SAY IT!  SING IT!  PLAY IT!  IN CHEROKEE in the library greenspace Through catchy songs and fun storytelling with Turtle and Wabbit, award winning Z Puppets Rosenschnoz’s performers, Cherokee tribal member Chris Griffith, assisted by Shari Aronson, lead an adventure into an endangered indigenous language.  Sing along and you, too, will learn how to count to three, make the basic sounds, and say hello and thank you in Cherokee!

Wednesday, July 6th:   NATIONAL EAGLE CENTER at the Houston Community Center The National Eagle Center will be here to teach us all about. . . . Red Tailed Hawks!  Did that surprise you?  Kids and their adults will have the opportunity to learn all about hawk biology, ecology, natural history, and cultural connections in an engaging and entertaining presentation by one of their naturalist interpreters.  This program features a live red-tailed hawk ambassador! 

Saturday, July 9th:  NATURE YOGA with Katie Kabat in the library greenspace Local yoga instructor, Katie Kabat, will take us all through an hour of fun nature-based yoga poses that encourage flexibility and strength during this all-ages family-friendly event.  Bring a blanket or yoga mat to make your experience more comfortable.

Wednesday, July 13th:  NATURE TRUNK SHOW with US Fish & Wildlife at the city park Come learn about some of the animals that live in and around the Mississippi River.  Bring your detective hats, because the best way to learn is through an investigation!  Ranger Zach will have furs and skulls so we can inspect the features that an animal has to discover where it lives, what it eats, and how it survives in its habitat. 

Saturday, July 16th:     SILVER CREEK  RUSTLERS in the library greenspace Members of one of our local 4-H clubs, the Silver Creek Rustlers, will be here running storytime for fun!  They’ll be reading “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Iggy Peck, Architect,” then helping us work on a project using marshmallows and popsicle sticks to create tall buildings and any other structure kids can dream of. 

Wednesday, July 20th:  RAD ZOO at the city park Join us for some Radical Reptile Adventures with the RAD ZOO. See, touch, and learn about different kinds of reptiles and amphibians. 

Saturday, July 23rd:   CAMPING with Pack 53 Cub Scouts in the library greenspace Scoutmaster Dusty will be here with Cub Scout members of Pack 53 teaching us all tips and tricks to going camping.  Learn how to set up a tent, what essentials you should have in your backpack, etc.  We’ll also read a few stories about camping and have a little snack appropriate for the occasion. Bring a sleeping bag to sit on!

Wednesday, July 27th:  SIAMA’S MUSIC FROM THE CONGO at the city park On this very special musical journey to Africa, Siama plays the guitar and fascinating traditional instruments like mbiri and balafon, while Dallas Johnson encourages everyone to sing along to happy songs in Kikongo, Lingala, and English.  They’ll also share stories that bring Siama’s rural homeland to life.  In addition, kids will have a chance to play shakers and participate in a fun dance party.  Come ready to have a great time.

Saturday, July 30th:      TAIKO DRUMMING at the library Taiko is the Japanese word for drum, referring to a modern style of playing traditional drums. It is a heart- pounding, high energy, and dynamic combination of music, dance, culture, and athleticism.  This 45 minute program includes 3-4 songs performed by 3 musicians, who will also teach us about the cultural importance of drumming in Japan. Join us for an exciting cultural experience during your Houston Hoedown weekend!

Wednesday, August 3rd:  BACKYARD BIRDS with Stan Tekiela at the Houston Community Center Naturalist, wildlife photographer, and writer Stan Tekiela is the originator of the popular Minnesota field guides to birds, raptors, wildflowers, and trees — all of which we have available for check-out at the library! Stan will be in Houston this summer with a one-hour presentation for kids and their adults on “Backyard Birds of Minnesota.” We’ll be over at the new Houston Community Center, rain or shine, and hope you’ll join us to learn more about the birds we see in our community.

Saturday, August 6th:  FAMILY MUSIC FUN with Will Bjorndal in the library greenspace Join us for an extra fun Saturday Morning Storytime with Will Bjorndal, naturalist and musician, who’ll be here performing original and traditional songs for young people of all ages.  Will will get kids and their adults up moving, grooving, and singing with his high-energy performance that focuses on positivity and joy.

Wednesday, August 10th:  BUILD AN OWL with Karla Bloem at the International Owl Center! Learn first-hand about owl adaptations by picking out the pieces and parts that belong to an owl and putting them into a “magic” box.  If correct, a live owl comes out from under the magic box for a visit.  Space is limited at the Owl Center, so don’t be late for this event.

Saturday, August 13th:  POP-UP TINKERGARTEN with Brenda Grupe in the library greenspace Enjoy simple, thoughtful, and engaging activities, all outside and kid-focused with a Pop-Up Tinkergarten experience at our Saturday Morning Storytime. Tinkergarten curriculum is designed to help kids develop key skills:  wellness, problem solving, empathy, communication, focus, persistence, and creativity, all while having fun in an outdoor setting.  Stop by and take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about the program.

Wednesday, August 17th:  FISH PRINTING at the city park Did you know that there are 162 species of fish in Minnesota?  Come learn about the fish of southeastern Minnesota with Sara Holger, naturalist at Whitewater State Park, and get some tips on how to catch them. In addition, we’ll paint fish prints to take home!

Saturday, August 20th:  FAMILY YOGA FUN with Katie Kabat in the library greenspace
Yoga instructor, Katie Kabat, will take us all through an hour of fun yoga poses that encourage flexibility and strength during this all-ages family-friendly event.  Bring a blanket or yoga mat to make your experience more comfortable!

Wednesday, August 24th:  EAGLE BLUFF LEARNING at the Houston Community Center The Eagle Bluff Learning Center will be here with a live skunk and a vulture for kids to learn about! We’ll be over at the Houston Community Center for this event and hope you join us! 

Saturday, August 27th:  APOLLO MUSIC FESTIVAL in the children’s room at the library The Apollo Music Festival is back in town for their annual series of free performances at Cross of Christ Church. In addition, the library is lucky enough to have them stopping by for storytime, sharing their love of classical music with local kids and their adults. Get up close and personal with a violin, viola, and cello.  

Wednesday, August 31st:  AFRICAN DRUMMING at our END OF SUMMER PARTY at city park It’s our last event of the summer   —  and might just be the most exciting!  Brother Ghana, a master percussionist from West Africa, will teach us all about the fine art of drumming in this fun, hands-on experience.  We’ll learn about the origins and importance of drums in African culture, practice some rhythm exercises,  and try out the djembe, dun dun, sangba, and kenkeni drums as a group, with a few African songs and dances along the way.  Don’t miss this amazing opportunity! 

The Houston Public Library’s 2022 Summer Reading Program is sponsored by:

the American Legion Post #423, American Rescue Plan Act grant funds through the Houston School District, Friends of the Houston Public Library, SELCO Legacy grants from the Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Sub-Zero Pizza and Ice Cream, memorials in honor of Dave Fadness and Nancy Forsyth, and generous donations from the public. Our thanks go out to everyone for making this schedule of events possible. A big shout-out to our Wednesday partners, the Meet Up & Eat Lunch Crew!  It takes a village!

Owl Story Stroll!

The 20th International Owl Festival is this weekend in Houston and the library is joining in the celebration by installing our first Story Stroll of the year down along the sidewalks at Valley View Healthcare & Rehab — with an owl theme, of course! Run, walk, bike, or stroll on over to read “Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story,” written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jonathan Voss. Send us a photo of your fun to share with our online library community via email at or to our Facebook page (Houston MN Public Library)! This Story Stroll was made possible thanks to funding from the Friends of th Library.


Stop by between 8 am and noon on Saturday, April 30th for the Friends of the Library’s annual Spring Book Sale, during Houston’s city-wide garage sale weekend. We”ll have withdrawn and donated books, CDs and DVDs for sale outside on the library’s sidewalks to the north and west of the building, weather permitting. As usual, it’s a Take-What-You-Want, Pay-What-You-Want event, with all proceeds going to support our Summer Reading Program. Questions? Give us a call at 896-READ.