North Houston Memorial Branch Library, 1948-1969

North Houston Memorial Branch Library, 1948-1969


In 1947, Berry Elementary School PTA members met with County Librarian Bernice Snell to discuss the community's desire to establish a standalone library branch. The community had been served through the bookmobile and a book station in the elementary school since the 1920s.
North Houston Memorial Branch Library, 1968
The land for the branch was donated by R. W. Holtz, president of Home Owned Properties. Harris County had recently bought several buildings while acquiring the right-of-way for the North Loop Highway (Interstate 610), and County Commissioner Ed Clauder arranged for a ranch-style house to be moved to the site. HCPL paid for a new foundation to be poured and the building was transferred to its new location.
It took several months to convert the building into a branch library; the community used that time to host benefits to raise funds for books and equipment for the branch. The Mildred School of Dancing held a benefit show in March 1948, with 31 performances by students of the school. The North Houston Library Society partnered with the local paper for the "1000-book-1000-buck" campaign. Each week the paper highlighted individual donations to the library and urged the community to "KEEP 'EM COMING".
The County provided $800 for books for the branch but did not allocate funds for a salaried librarian "custodian". The North Houston Library Society used funds raised by the community to hire Julia Jones as the branch librarian and she started on November 1, 1948.

Opening and early years

The North Houston Memorial branch opened on November 10, 1948, with 2,465 books. The community had donated thousands of books, but the majority of those donations were worn-out books that would not hold up to the heavy use library books endure.
Almost immediately upon opening, though, the area was annexed by the City of Houston.  This put the branch in jeopardy, as the City had previously taken over library services at Harris County libraries after annexation. Community leaders tried to rally support around making the branch a joint City-County building in the early 1950s, but no progress was made. The County continued to operate the branch with support from local clubs.
The County approved a salary for a librarian for 24 hours per week in 1949; the North Houston Library Society provided funding to allow the library to open for an additional 20 hours each week. However, the Society pulled the funding in early 1950, and the library's hours were reduced primarily to weekday afternoons.
In 1952, a Friends of the Library group was formed for the branch. The group was able to raise funds for a fan to cool the building in the summer and planned an exhibit of community crafts. The building also received a fresh coat of paint and landscaping improvements. Julia Jones resigned as the librarian in 1955, and Lenore McCall was hired as the new librarian. Community engagement continued to grow: there was a 60% increase in circulation between 1955 and 1956, with 21,897 books checked out.

Later years and eventual closure  

The last day of operation was January 31, 1969. City residents had access to the brand new 6,213 square foot Nettie Moody Neighborhood Library of the Houston Public Library. The HCPL bookmobile had two regular stops near the neighborhood - Southbrook and Hardy - where county residents could continue to check out materials.