By George Slaughter
The Maud Smith Marks Library celebrates its 25th anniversary at 1 p.m. Saturday with a cake cutting and other events, including a book character contest, a book spin contest, and a book race contest.
The celebration will also include square dancers, games, crafts, a magician, a visit from Mother Goose, and contests and snacks.
Remembering Maud Smith Marks
Maud Smith Marks, the library’s namesake, lived in the early 20th century. She and her husband Emil owned the LH7 Ranch in western Harris County, where they raised cattle. She organized a small library in the 1920s in the Barker community and made arrangements with Harris County for books.
Emil Marks helped revive the Salt Grass Trail Ride in 1952, which today is a popular lead-in to Rodeo Houston. Marks family descendants are expected to attend Saturday’s festivities.
The library opened in 1993 and is a branch of the Harris County Public Library.
Implementing a Family Place Library Program
The celebration comes as the library prepares to implement a Family Place Library program through funding provided by the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation.
“We are very excited about the implementation of the Family Place Libraries program,” Akhila Bhat, library branch manager, said. “My goal for Maud Smith Marks Library is to offer programs and services that are of high interest and will impact the community in a big way.”
Bhat took over at the Maud Smith Marks Library earlier this year after working at the Barbara Bush Library in northwest Houston. She said that Family Place Libraries “transforms libraries into community centers for early literacy and learning, parent education and engagement, family support and community connectivity helping to ensure all children enter school ready and able to learn.”
Bhat said the program was implemented at another county library as a pilot program and has been successful.
“The families really enjoyed and appreciated the early learning center,” Bhat said. “Thanks to the funding from the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation, we will now be able to implement this program at our library. The donation was made in honor of Barbara Bush and her commitment to literacy. The timeline for this implementation will span about a year.”
Book Sales and Volunteer Opportunities
The library is well-known for its used book sales, which also feature used CDs, DVDs, and magazines. The Friends of the Maud Smith Marks Library puts on the sale the last Saturday of each month.
The sales are a key fundraising vehicle for the library to offer programs, such as the Timeless Travelers, which enable older patrons to take day trips to cultural and historical sites in the area. Recent trips have included trips to the Alamo in San Antonio, the state Capitol building in Austin, and the Houston Ship Channel. On Wednesday, the travelers visited the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station.
In addition to purchasing these items, patrons have other opportunities to participate and contribute by volunteering or joining the Friends of the Maud Smith Marks Library.
“We are always in need of volunteers for shelving or pulling books based on daily reports or helping organize the donated books,” Bhat said. “When you volunteer, some companies match the volunteering by donating money to the organization. Most people are not aware of this benefit from their companies. If your company provides this perk, please make sure our library benefits from it.”
The library is seeking ESL tutors and volunteers to teach citizenship classes.
“People in the community can volunteer to provide these essential services in the community,” Bhat said. “By being involved with the Friends of the Maud Smith Marks Library, you can help support the library by helping out with various library programs and activities.”
Bhat said the library wants to expand its services by partnering with community organizations.
“Organizations that are looking to partner with us and help serve the community are welcome to contact us,” Bhat said. “Libraries are an integral part of the community and it is important to have people who support and lobby for growth of libraries in their community. I’m very excited about what the future holds for Maud Smith Marks Library.”