Aldine Branch Library
Before a Branch
Aldine businessman I.H. Mowery was one of the community leaders that circulated the petition to establish a library system for Harris County. Mowery ensured that many of the Aldine area schools received a book collection when the library system started in June 1921.
The Aldine School was a Harris County Public Library station from 1921 to 1943. The school's collection was occasionally removed when too many books were lost; however, within a semester, the students would return their books so that the school could receive a new collection. In 1936, when the Library was gifted three Victrola phonographs, the Aldine School received one. The Victrolas were used to listen to "fine music" and help with music study.
After the collection was removed from the school in 1944, the Aldine community was on the bookmobile route until the early 1950s.
The Aldine Branch Library had a start different than many branches in HCPL. There was no Friends group lobbying for a branch or high demand from residents. Instead, a study commissioned in 1971 identified the area's significant development since the Houston Intercontinental Airport's opening (now the George Bush Intercontinental Airport). The area had been heavily populated for years without a community library.
In March of 1974, Commissioner's Court approved $300,000 for a library in the Aldine area. In June of the same year, the county planned a 7,000 square foot library designed by the architect John Chase. Construction began in 1975 and continued through early 1976 (seen here).
A dedication ceremony was held on Saturday, April 3, 1976. Library Director Katherine Skinner Brown was the Master of Ceremonies. County Judge Jon Lindsay and Commissioner E. A. "Squatty" Lyons cut the ribbon on the building at 10 a.m. A puppet show was held at 11 a.m., and in the afternoon, members of the Houston Aeros hockey team visited the library to sign autographs and meet fans.
The pyramid-shaped building held 35,000 books and featured a copper roof. The Aldine branch's interior in 1976 is pictured here.
In August of 1976, Guusje Moore was named the new branch manager. Moore had previously been the supervisor for the Bookmobile Program.
In April of 1978, Aldine celebrated its second anniversary as an HCPL branch library.
The estimated monthly circulation was 8,000; however, the actual circulation was nearly double that figure. The Aldine branch was one of the top 4 branches in circulation by the end of the 1970s.
The Texas Summer Reading program theme in 1979 was "In Search of Texas Treasures." At the end of August, the Aldine branch held a huge party celebrating Texas's different cultures.
The 1980s were a difficult time for the Aldine branch. In December of 1980, repairs had to be made to the building due to dampness that caused mold, mildew, and wet carpet. The branch was also closed from February to May of 1981 for repairs. In June of 1981, mold was found on books due to A/C problems that had been ongoing since the building opened.
The Aldine Library is next door to Stovall Middle School and Aldine High School. In the afternoons, the library would fill with students just released from classes.
Retired librarian Margaret Davis shares this memory from the early 1980s:
"I heard a distinct series of loud THUMPing sounds one weekday in the afternoon. I found out later that the football coach had asked the players to run as fast as they could across the fields to the library, touch the wall, and then run back to the junior high school. The THUMPs were the football players giving the library wall a good thump to help launch them on the return trajectory. We heard them daily during football practice."
In August of 1983, Hurricane Alicia caused extensive damage to the branch, and it was closed for repairs, with patrons being sent to the High Meadows branch for their library needs. In September of the same year, Commissioner's Court approved funds for repairs, estimated to cost $120,000.
The branch reopened on June 4, 1984. Branch Librarian Kathy Ziegler is seen here restocking the bookshelves ahead of the reopening.
Judy Blume won the 1986 Children's Choice Award of Harris County Public Library. The award was first presented in 1978 to Dr. Seuss.
Judy Blume had just published her title What Your Kids Wish They Could Tell You and stopped at the Aldine Branch Library on April 30, 1986, to accept her award and talk about her books.
In January 1990, the Aldine branch obtained a constable to patrol the building. The branch had suffered a series of break-ins during 1988 and 1989.
In the fall of 1993, the Friends of the Aldine Library held the first book sale in several years, raising more than $500 for the branch. Earlier that year, the Friends had donated a Compaq computer to the library to help staff track newly purchased books and write reports. The Friends hoped to raise enough money to purchase a public computer the following year.
In April 1996, the branch celebrated its 20th anniversary.
On May 13, 1996, the Aldine Independent School District's Community Based Vocational Instruction Program presented the Aldine Library with a certificate of appreciation.
The 1998 Summer Reading program was jam-packed. A Benjamin Franklin impersonator visited the branch for a program on the founding fathers. Children watched a karate demonstration, and a longhorn steer from the Unicorn Ranch traveled to the branch for a program on behalf of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. At the end of July, an engineering student working with NASA visited the branch to show children the type of food astronauts eat and let them try on a space helmet (pictured).
In November of 1998, the branch librarian expressed the need for a new building. The county decided instead to renovate and expand the existing building instead.
In a profile of the new branch manager Garry Collum, it's noted that "Sundays are the only time the Aldine Branch Library is quiet and not buzzing with activity and that's because it's closed."
The branch moved to a temporary location in early 2000. Work began expanding the building from 8,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet, including a new community meeting room and three study rooms. The renovated branch held double the number of computers from the old building, and all 20 computers were wired for Internet access.
The branch held a reopening ceremony on September 6, 2001.
Director Cathy Park speaks at the grand opening of the newly renovated Aldine branch. Commissioner El Franco Lee, Precinct 1, is seated behind Park.
In January of 2002, the Aldine Library partnered with the community to create a community mural mosaic at the library. It also included work by Reginald Adams and students from Stovall Middle School. Partners in the mosaic included HCPL, Commissioner Lee, the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston, and the Greater Greenspoint District.
On November 7, 2002, the mosaic was dedicated.
In 2004, Houston Texan football player Chester Pitts and two Texans cheerleaders visited the Aldine branch to honor the winners of the Reliant Energy Power Players reading program.
In the spring of 2009, Aldine branch staff and teens worked together on a book cart for the Houston Art Car parade. The "Readies" cart was part of the Library's outreach booth at the event.
That September, the YMCA of Greater Houston donated six crape myrtle trees and Aztec grass to the library. The trees brightened up the exterior of the building.
In the summer of 2013, students from the Sam Houston State University Quidditch team visited and taught Aldine kids how to play the game. The nearby school fields were a perfect space for the outdoor program.
In 2014, Aldine had a very busy Summer Reading Program. A NASA scientist visited in June to talk about conditions of living in space and brought a NASA sleeping bag for teens to try out. In July families turned out for a LEGO program.
Also in July, a Zumba instructor came to help get the kids moving (pictured here).
In August 2019, a new interior mural by Houston artist Wiley Robinson was revealed in the children's area that brightened up the space. Guests at the unveiling received custom t-shirts designed by local teen artist Michaela.
In October, Aldine staff did an outreach event at Odom Weaver Elementary School.
As 2020 progressed and the Coronavirus pandemic struck Harris County, the Aldine Branch staff transitioned to virtual service. The staff helped customers adjust to the new curbside service, designed customized book bundles, and recorded virtual programs to stay connected with their community. In May 2021, the branch received new flooring.
The branch reopened to the public on June 8, 2021. After a challenging year for the Aldine community, the library is back in business.