Crosby Edith Fae Cook Cole Branch Library
The Crosby branch dates back to the earliest days of the HCPL system.
The first library station was a collection of 87 books in the Crosby High School (seen here). The station opened on January 22, 1922. During the first month of operation, the books circulated 174 times, demonstrating the community's need for a more permanent library collection. In 1926, the Crosby station had the third-highest overall circulation, with 7,778 books checked out, behind only Goose Creek (Baytown) and Harrisburg.
For the next seven years, the collection continued to be housed at the school while classes were in session. During the summer months, the books moved to a local store.
In 1929, the community worked together to secure an actual building for the library.
On behalf of the Crosby Mercantile Association, O. A. Rudland donated a 9 by 12-foot building (seen here) that had once been used as a gas station and a hot dog stand.
J. J. Orsag, of the Farmers Gin Company, agreed to lend the library the County Lot #8, block 15 of the original townsite of Crosby. Orsag arranged to have the building moved to the site.
Mrs. Oscar Nelson conducted a house-to-house canvas for funds to remodel the building. Albert Nelson did the carpentry and painting to get the building in good shape.
On January 5, 1930, the new library was finally opened for business. Ada Anderson was named the branch librarian.
By 1931, there were 812 volumes in the collection with a circulation of 8,960.
In 1933, fundraising and donations allowed the library to be expanded and repaired, increasing the building to 12 by 18 feet and acquiring a new roof, flooring, shelving, windows, and a paint job. The work was completed in 1934.
Payment for the improvements was funded in part through tickets for candy at the Crosby Fair in the 1930s. The library was fully paid off in October 1935.
A collection of books was placed in Crosby Elementary School in 1938.
During the earliest days of the HCPL system, most library stations in the system were in elementary schools. As the system aged and communities built free-standing library buildings, many of those school stations closed. However, as the Great Depression continued, the library again extended its reach into the local schools. A report from 1938 stated: "Inaccessibility to the community libraries make[s] library service to schools very valuable."
Small collections of books were placed in segregated schools in the area, including (as they were known at the time) Crosby Barrett Colored School and Crosby Friendship Colored School. Service to the Barrett School started in 1941, and the Friendship School received a collection in 1943. When Friendship consolidated into Barrett in 1947, the black community in Crosby had only one library station. Circulation dropped significantly the next year, from 343 checkouts to just 40.
The station at the Barrett School was closed in September 1948.
In 1956, through the efforts of the Sorosis Club and local citizens, the library was moved to 5521 Avenue B in Crosby, where Leroy Mahala agreed to rent a 240 square foot air-conditioned space in his new office building to the library.
Citizens and the Sorosis club moved the collection and proved furnishings. The Harris County Commissioner's Court agreed to pay for the rent, electricity, and the salary for new librarian Louise Reynolds.
The statistics at the branch fluctuated widely over the decade, from a low of 7,596 in 1955 to a high of 19,500 in 1958. In 1959, the branch circulation dropped down again to 12,340.
The grand opening at the new location took place on April 28, 1963.
Librarian Louise Reynolds continued in her position for 23 years, finally retiring in October 1978.
A 1971 study looked at the services areas of current HCPL locations and made projections about future growth in the county. As seen in this graphic, the Crosby Library (number 2, far right) was very isolated from the rest of the library system. The library held 3,400 volumes in a tiny one-room space. There was little space for patrons to sit and read or for staff to host programs. The report notes: "For all practical purposes, this library functions as a book station for the convenience of this community."
Joe Washburn took over as librarian after Reynolds retired. The library was open for 20 hours a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The collection now held 4,000 items.
In April 1979, at a Crosby Chamber of Commerce meeting, a community member gave a speech requesting a new library.
Nancy Stephens took over from Washburn in June 1979. In October, the Crosby Newport Optimist Club initiated a drive to move and expand the branch.
In November, the Friends of the Crosby Library was officially formed. The Friends organized a membership drive and letter-writing campaign to the Commissioner's Court about the need for a new library. This led the Commissioner's Court to approve the rental of a larger space for the library.
The circulation for 1979 was 14,800.
In March 1980, the library moved to a 1,102 square foot building at 514 Church Street. The new building held a collection of 4,900 items. The library had a soft opening on March 27th, with the official grand opening on April 12, 1980.
For the first time, two part-time employees were working at the library. The building was open for 32 hours each week, long enough for a regular children's storytime to be added to the schedule.
In July 1980, the Commissioner's Court agreed to fund two full-time employees for the branch, allowing the library to be open for 41 hours per week. That year there was a circulation of 26,700 books.
In June 1981, the roof started leaking due to heavy rain and damaged sheetrock and carpeting. In August, the carpet got replaced but once again got wet from unresolved roof leaks.
Then in March 1982, there was standing water in the restrooms after a hard rain.
As if those problems were not bad enough, in May 1983, a tornado swept through the area and caused even more water damage inside the building.
The branch received a modest expansion in December 1984, adding 525 square feet to the building. However, the community needed a new non-rented building, and Harris County hoped to raise money for a new library building with the next bond sale.
In July 1985, Commissioner Jim Fonteno met with the Crosby Chamber of Commerce and discussed plans for a new library. Commissioners Court approved the plan for a new building constructed next to Crosby Park.
The groundbreaking for the new building took place a year later, in July 1986.
The grand opening of the new 10,500 square foot facility was on October 8, 1987. The library could now hold 38,500 volumes, a significant increase from the 4,900 the previous building held! Students had more study space, and members of the community now had access to a meeting room they could reserve.
Seen here: HCPL Director Cathy Park (far right) with County Commissioner Jim Fonteno (center) and staff at the grand opening.
View the program for the dedication and grand opening of the branch.
In July 1988, lit fireworks were thrown down the book drop, but no one got hurt.
An unusual burglary occurred in January 1989: someone stole the kitchen clock and sodas from the fridge in the staff workroom.
That June, heavy rains and humidity caused mold to grow on some of the books.
In August, a historical display was installed at the library by the Crosby Chamber of Commerce. The collection, assembled by local historian Edith Cook Cole, consisted of photographs and scrapbooks displayed in a custom-designed cabinet designed by a local carpenter. The display still stands just inside the entrance to the library.
In May 1990, high humidity caused the paperback books to curl, and more mold was found.
Santa Claus visited the branch in December 1990 to pass out candy canes and presents to children.
Branch Librarian Carol Lee (left) and Children's Librarian Lisa Standard (right) next to the voting booth as a child casts a vote for the Children's Choice award in 1992.
In October 1994, the area flooded, and the library was closed for one day. There was no damage to the building.
In December 1995, a janitor accidentally left a faucet running overnight, and the entire building experienced minor flood damage. Some books and supplies were damaged and had to be replaced.
In October 1997, the library celebrated 75 years of service to the Crosby area and the 10th anniversary at the Hare Road location.
The library closed its doors for renovations in 2006. An area for teen books was added and the children's area received a mural by artist Cindy Lee.
Crosby kids visited the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, during Art Camp, August 2008. Pictured here is storytime outside the museum.
Crosby branch staff in 2008.
Children holding snakes during a Summer Reading Program event in August 2009.
In June 2010, the Crosby All-American Kazoo Band performed at the branch.
The Crosby Fire Department visited in July 2011, and Crosby children got to try holding up the fire hose.
In April 2013, Cub Scout Pack 264 toured the branch.
The Crosby High School Encore Choral Group performed holiday songs at the branch in December 2014.
Easter Egg Hunt on March 31, 2015.
On October 16, 2017, the branch celebrated the 30th anniversary of its current building with a renaming ceremony. The branch was renamed the Crosby Edith Fae Cook Cole Branch Library.
Cole, who had assembled the historical display at the branch in 1989, was from a notable Crosby family - Hare Cook Road bears her family's name. The County renamed the branch to honor Cole's work as a Crosby historian. Cole wrote Crosby's Heritage Preserved, 1823-1949: a good town today, a better town tomorrow (published in 1992). (Click here to view this title at www.hcpl.net)
Cole passed away in the spring of 2018. View her obituary.
Hula hooping during a Summer Reading Program event in 2018.
Two children read to a furry friend at the Crosby Edith Fae Book Cole Branch Library in February 2019.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Crosby staff transitioned to virtual and curbside services to continue offering exceptional customer service to the community, including creating book bundles and designing scavenger hunts outside the branch.
On May 19, 2021, the branch reopened for the first time in March 2020.
After a challenging year for the Crosby community, the library is back in business, offering summer reading programs outside under the giant oak tree.