LSC-Tomball Community Library
The Beginning of the Tomball Branch
The first library station in Tomball was one glass-fronted bookcase housing approximately 200 books in the Post Office Building in the 100 Block of Main Street during the 1920s. The books were provided by Harris County and space and staff were provided by Tomball. The first librarian was Alice Hegar and Edna Lou Martin served as a volunteer.
The area around Tomball grew rapidly. Since the Tomball school had no library to meet the needs of the children, in 1928, Edna Lou Martin (later Sims), arranged for the school bus to visit the library station once a week. There the children checked out books while the bus waited.
It was a modest start to library service in Tomball, but it was well-received and heavily used.
The library station in Tomball eventually closed in 1945. The Tomball Hub Club, with Ann Ward as president, collaborated with the library to establish regular bookmobile services for the area. The bookmobile served the community through the early 1950s, stopping every three weeks under an old sycamore tree near the railroad tracks. One of the bookmobile workers on the route that served Tomball was Vivian Knight.
By 1961, the need for a library building in Tomball was becoming increasingly evident. The Humble Study Club, lead by Cora Sue Warren, proposed the project of a Tomball library to the County Librarian, Mary Owensby. Mary Owensby suggested the formation of a Friends of the Library group (FOL) to raise funds to cover some of the expenses. The Tomball FOL group was formed in 1961.
The library branch project was presented to the Commissioners Court; it was approved and added to the 1962 County budget, with an allocation of $7,500 to supply books and a librarian.
On June 1, 1962, Edna Sims, who had worked for the Tomball Branch back in the 1920s when it was housed in the Post Office station, began work as the librarian of the Tomball Library. In July, a two-room library space at 101 West Main was rented by the Friends of the Library. The FOL also donated shelving, chairs, tables, and an air conditioner. The city of Tomball paid the utilities.
The Tomball Branch opened on July 18, 1962, with 1,914 books. The library was open for 20 hours per week. 200 books were checked out in the first three days, and 737 books were checked out in the first two weeks of service.
By the year 1965, the library branch once again needed more space. In March of that year, it moved to a new location at 500 Elm Street in what once was the old Service Pipeline headquarters.
The Tomball Library quickly outgrew the new location on Elm Street due to high usage and increasingly popular children's programs. By this point, the FOL had a new president, C. D. Masdon, who in January 1967 requested an application from the Texas State Library to apply for LCSA Title II grants.
In May, the FOL began to raise funds for the new building. Harris County Commissioner Everett Augustus “Squatty” Lyons, Jr. expressed his support for a new library building and recommended that the FOL submit their funding request to Commissioner's Court to be considered for the 1968 budget. In September, the FOL raised $3,000, including $1,000 provided by the Tomball Rotary Club. In October, the Humble Study Club set up tables at grocery stores and banks in order to raise money.
By November 1967, the FOL had raised $8,200, and the city of Tomball donated an acre of land on James Street to be the site of the new library building. Finally in December, the FOL went to Commissioner's Court to petition for the funds for the new building. Their case was bolstered by the fact that the old building was only 630 square feet but circulated an astounding 93,000 books annually.
In February of 1968, the Commissioner's Court approved funding for three new branches including Tomball. Mary Owensby wrote to Commissioner's Court for approval to apply for matching Title II grant funds. In October of that year, the county officially started the Title II application process. The initial funding estimate also increased from $91,000 to $123,900 along with the size of the building, as seen in this news clipping from the time. In December, the funds were delayed and had the potential to be lost altogether, so the FOL wrote to Congress in support of the funding. In February 1969 the Texas State Library announced that funds were delayed possibly until July 1969. In May, after hearing the news, FOL president C. D. Masdon wrote to three congressmen and two state senators (including George H. W. Bush, future U.S. President) in support of the Title II funding. Four of the five responded in favor of the funding but it was mentioned that Nixon planned to cut the funding program. In July, the county passed Part I of the Title II approval process and moved on to Part II, the architectural plans. The La Marque Library had priority for the funds but failed to produce matching capital, paving the way for Tomball to receive the $50,000. Tomball would become the last library to receive the grant before the Title II program was abolished by Nixon. In September 1969, architects Cole & Garcia were selected to design the new Tomball library.
In March of 1970, County librarian Mary Owensby asked Commissioner's Court for an additional $17,000 because the Nixon administration reduced funding for the grant.
On February 18, 1971, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the land for the new building.
On February 14, 1972, the new library finally opened on 103 James Street. This was made possible with funds provided by Title II ($50,000), the county ($81,000), and the FOL ($9,000). Edna Sims remained the head librarian and was joined by assistant librarians Mariann Young (Master of Library Science, Louisiana State University) and Cecile Roberts.
The library's dedication ceremony was held on February 13, 1972. Mayor of Tomball Ben Scholl, Commissioner “Squatty” Lyons, and FOL president C. D. Masdon were in attendance.
Reverend Dewyth Beltz of Klein Trinity Lutheran Church led a dedication prayer.
Commissioner “Squatty” Lyons and C. D. Masdon stand at the podium in this photo of the dedication ceremony. C. D. Masdon introduced the guests and Commissioner Lyons gave the "Presentation of Library" address.
HCPL Librarian Mary Owensby introduced the staff of the library, including Edna Sims, Cecile Roberts, and Marianne Young, pictured here.
The new Tomball library opened with a strong focus on student support.
A reading room in the new building honored Friends of the Library President, C. D. Masdon, for his fundraising and assistance in ensuring the new library became a reality.
Throughout the 1970's, children's and adult reference sections expanded, 5 new staff members were hired, and the book collection enlarged by 15,000 volumes. There was also a surge in Children's Summer Reading Program Attendance and an increase in circulation and programming in general, as seen in this photo of librarians at a children's event. In the late 1970's Tomball staff upgraded the technology of the card catalog from card files to microfiche.
Halloween at Tomball in the 1970s.
Christmas at Tomball in the 1970's.
Edna Sims, who had been the Tomball Librarian since 1962, retired in February.
Under her leadership, the branch staff had increased to 13 library employees. Her retirement was attended by the County Judge, Commissioners, and Tomball officials in honor of her enormous contribution to the county and the city of Tomball.
From left to right: Mickey Davis; Kathy Brown, HCPL Director; Edna Sims, Tomball Branch Librarian; County Judge Jon Lindsey; Cox; Bettie Shead, Tomball staff.
In 1980, the North Harris County College teachers began to offer adult education programs at Tomball, as shown by this article promoting an upcoming February adult programming on the topic of astrology. This began the partnership between the Tomball library and the college.
In June, Larry Garber became the new head librarian at the Tomball branch, as announced in this article.
There was a large growth in children's activity times, which included regular puppet shows, holiday celebrations, such as the Children's Halloween program shown here in October of 1982.
1980s Thanksgiving Program where children got to meet a real turkey named Tommy.
Tomball Librarian with a patron.
Children's Halloween Program in October of 1991.
An adult literacy program at Tomball run by tutors started to take off, as evidenced by this May article about the program, showing how helpful it was to the community. The Tomball branch also became an important resource and reference center for the growing city of Tomball.
In the summer of 1996, the county library system, including Tomball, launched a new computer system called Harry. Using this system, patrons were able to look up and check out books on their own from library computer portals instead of using the old card catalogs and standing in a checkout line. They were also to browse and hold books from their own computers at home using the new online system. This was a huge upgrade to library technology at the time and the start of what modern library computer systems look like today.
In 1997, Harris County voters approved $15 million in library bonds for either the expansion of the existing Tomball branch or for the construction of an all-new Tomball library building.
In 1998, a decision still had not been made about how to use the bond money for the library. Arguments were made that it would be most cost-effective to simply expand the existing library on James Street and that the existing library was somewhat out of the way, and Tomball patrons would benefit from an all-new building in a new more central location.
In November of 1999, a decision was finally reached when the Tomball City Council approved a request to expand the existing Tomball branch on James Street. The plans intended to add 9,200 square feet to the building and add an additional 60 parking spaces to accommodate the growing community.
With the plan to use the bond money to expand at the existing James Street location decided, the decision was made to demolish the old building and expand on the same location with a whole new larger 15,000 square foot building. In 2001, the library was moved to a temporary location adjacent to a supermarket at 1226 W. Main Street, the entrance of which is seen in this photo, the James Street building was demolished, and a groundbreaking was held in November of 2001.
Excitement was up and construction was underway for a brand-new library; however, in April, everything came to a halt when standing water was found under the soil, essentially a perched water settlement, which would require a new foundation at an extra cost of $500,000. In order to solve this problem, Precinct 4 Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole started negotiations to partner with the North Harris County Montgomery Community College (from which teachers had already been coming to the Tomball library to teach adult classes to patrons) to establish a joint county-college library at Tomball College off of Texas Highway 249. There was a lot of community concern about the merge; however, Eversole argued that they could not pass up the opportunity to be part of a larger library project and that it would benefit Tomball residents and community college students from then and far into the future. The City of Tomball eventually decided to sell the old library site.
Meanwhile, service and programming continued at the temporary Main Street location, like the 2002 Summer Reading Program event shown here.
When the new joint building with the college opened, it increased the library's square footage from 12,000 to 72,000, resulting in a staff gain from 7 to 52, which allowed for a rise in open hours from 44 to 71 per week. The collection also grew from 58,000 to 168,000, and the public computers from 9 to 104. The exterior of the new joint library is shown here.
Children's Area in the new Tomball College and Community Library.
On January 20, 2005, HCPL and the Tomball community celebrated the grand opening of the Tomball College and Community library.
The ribbon-cutting was performed by Cathy Park, Modelle Brudner, Wendy Schneider, MaryJean Webster, Mayor H.G. “Hap” Harrington, David Melver, Dr. Richard Campbell, County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, Chancellor Dr. John Pickelman, County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, President of LSC-Tomball Dr. Ray Hawkins, Reverend J. Wayne Harberson, Diane Holland, Homer Ford, and Bruce Hillegeist.
This new facility had a drive-thru service, an internet café, designated children's and young adult's sections, a conference meeting room, private study rooms, and two computer classrooms (some of which can be seen from these photos from the grand opening). A new partnership with the North Harris Community College District and the Montgomery County Library allowed for easy exchange of materials between Tomball and those library systems.
Brochure for the first Summer Reading Program in the new Tomball College and Community Library building in 2005.
Children's Halloween Storytime in October of 2006.
In 2007, the library name was officially changed to Lone Star College – Tomball Community Library, and the first Adult Summer Reading Program was added, with 30 adults registering. For the City of Tomball’s 100th Anniversary in 2007, an entire week of community activities was held at the library, including centennial games in the Children’s department such as sack races and horseshoes. The western-based theme was “Ropin’ in 100 years of Tomball History.” The librarians also participated in the Tomball Holiday Parade, pictured here.
Unfortunately, things did not stay full of awards and excitement. Later that year, Hurricane Ike closed the library for a few weeks when water flooded in from the upstairs patio area HCPL and Lone Star staff worked quickly together to move the materials to safety. Still serving while closed, a mini-library was set up in one of the college rooms and children’s story times were held in the college amphitheater. The main building was shut down for 20 days and its re-opening was important news for the Tomball community, as seen in this article. A grand re-opening was hosted on October 3, 2008.
In 2010, the library held its fifth anniversary for the joint community college location. Starting in 2014, under the leadership of Tomball Library Director Lynne Ring, the library developed a whole new set of methods for outreach including beloved story times at the Tomball Farmer’s Market, book reading and crafts at area Senior Living Centers, and Winter Wonderland with Lone Star College featuring real snow. Tomball staff participated in the annual Tomball Holiday Parade with the staff book cart drill team, organized by Cheryl Rhodes. As the parade coordinator, she used a whistle to lead practices out in the parking lot for weeks ahead of the parade as they prepared all kinds of movements and formations. The Tomball library book cart drill-team even won the ‘Best Marching Group’ award, beating out all the area bands!
As the library celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2015, a book character costume contest was held. The festivities featured special guest John Erickson aka the “Hank the Cowdog” author, who signed copies of his books, along with games, crafts, and refreshments. That same year, a much-needed ILS computer system software upgrade from Horizon to Symphony was implemented in 2015, which required extensive training, but ultimately made searching and managing materials much easier for both staff and patrons as the world moved even further into the Internet Information age.
In September of 2017, Janna Hoglund joined LSC-Tomball Community Library as the new director. In November of the same year, the library honored veterans on Veteran's day with "A Living History: WWII," an interactive museum at the branch. Many joint activities through Harris County Precinct 4 were added throughout the end of the decade. Well attended events were monthly ENCORE 50 Plus Bus Trips, Shakespeare in the Park face painting and craft tables, Holiday Open Houses with Santa and Summer Reading Kickoff celebrations at Burroughs Park featuring the HCPL Curiosity Cruiser and a special “Astronaut” - HCPL Director Edward Melton.
In January the library began to offer services, primarily storytime services, at the LSC College Creekside location to meet increasing community need in that area. That same year, library staff had their first Christmas at the location, seen here.
Tomball Community Art Showcase Collaboration
Launched in 2019, the Tomball Community Art Showcase, an ongoing art venue exhibiting visual and performing artwork created by students from Tomball Independent School District and LSC-Tomball, as well as local artists, showed an extraordinary partnership indicative of the collaborative culture of the city of Tomball. A photo from the grand opening is shown here.
View more photos of the Tomball Community Art Showcase.
In April of 2019, the Library hosted an author visit with Lone Star College President Dr. Lee Ann Nutt and Latoya Hardman Lewis as they presented their new book, “Complete the Agenda in Higher Education: Challenge Beliefs about Student Success” to the Tomball community.
In conjunction with the Summer Reading Program 2019, Lone Star College facilities department replaced the outdated tile and carpet in the Children’s area with a beautifully designed, more functional flooring. Seen here are the before and after photos.
On August 6, 2019, the library received a certificate of appreciation from the City of Tomball for its contributions to the community.
In 2019, an HCPL grant from the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation and Phillips 66 to promote literacy, learning and health for families provided professional development for staff, along with books and educational toys as part of the Family Place Libraries national initiative. Opening in October 2019, with a grand opening seen here attended by library director Edward Melton who participated in the ribbon-cutting, the George and Barbara Bush Family Place inside the children’s area became a welcoming environment for young children to learn new skills, develop small motor skills, interact socially with others and read books as a family. The Family Place initiative also included a series of workshops for parents and toddlers that promoted learning and development through play.
View more photos of the Barbara Bush Family Place at LSC-Tomball Community Library.
On January 25, the LSC-Tomball Community Library kicked off its 15th year anniversary celebrations with an open house.
The celebration also included performances by Lone Star College students, refreshments, and a gorgeous display of historical costumes and community artwork.
Part of the 15th year anniversary celebration was the grand opening of the library's new maker space, called the Tomball "Innovation Lab", on January 28, 2020. It featured 3D printers, laser, and vinyl cutters, robotics, virtual reality technology, tools, and other machinery to a great level of excitement and interest to the community. With support from LSC-Tomball, Harris County Precinct 4, Tomball Chamber of Commerce, Tomball Independent School District, Tomball Economic Development, the City of Tomball and HCA-Houston Healthcare Tomball and others, the lab provides a much-needed Maker Space resource. The lab provides dedicated space for activities that involve the principles of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, and is easily accessible and freely available to all.
The celebration included a ribbon-cutting, equipment demonstrations, children’s robotics, crafts, and a 3D virtual reality experience.
View more photos of the Tomball Innovation Lab.
The LSC-Tomball Community Library hosted a logo design contest in the fall of 2019 for the upcoming Tomball Innovation Lab. Contestants of all ages from the Tomball area were welcome to submit artwork for a logo that embraced the lab’s goal of being “Your Destination for Innovation Experience.” Submissions were taken through the fall of 2019. The winning design was by Michele Patton, pictured here.
Harris County Precinct Four also honored the grand opening of the Innovation Lab.
As 2020 progressed and the world experienced the Coronavirus pandemic, the Tomball library staff moved into a new virtual world. Under the leadership team of Janna Hoglund, Kimberly Clutter, Jay Smith, and Liz Cowles, all 30 employees transitioned quickly to working from home, creating video content, both recorded and live events, answering reference questions by email and online chats, and working tirelessly on HCPL committees to create resources and programs virtually via the internet and Teams video conference calls.
When the Tomball branch reopened for curbside service in September 2020, Curbside Larry visited to highlight the collections available again to the Tomball community, as well as the branch's drive-through window for easier pickup of materials.
While greatly missing the face-to-face aspect of daily seeing Tomball community friends, Lone Star students, and colleagues, as always, Team Tomball rose above the challenges to deliver and serve as a vital resource to the Tomball, Magnolia, and Lone Star service area patrons, while making safety and service the number one priority.