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Houston, TX— June 20, 2024 — Houston Public Library (HPL) is proud to announce that it has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support its digitization project, "Analog to Digital: Preserving Houston’s Black Voices." This two-year initiative will digitize historically significant and vulnerable archived audio, video, and oral history recordings of prominent Black community members, making these resources publicly available for library and museum exhibits, researchers, community events, and online and printed publications.

Key Project Objectives:

  • Digitization and Reformatting: Preserve 1,416 audiovisual items by converting them to digital formats.
  • Increased Accessibility: Enhance public access to resource materials by making them available online at no cost.
  • Promotion of Archives: Increase awareness and usage of the archives through targeted promotions.
  • Curated Community Partnerships: Engage with community partners to curate and share the digitized archives.

The funding will support essential project components including the hiring of a contract Project Archivist. These resources enable HPL to undertake comprehensive archival processing—arranging, describing, and preserving the materials—to ensure their longevity and accessibility. "Preserving Houston’s Black Voices" specifically targets historically significant collections related to Houston’s historic ward districts, key organizations like Trinity United Methodist Church, and notable neighborhoods such as Independence Heights and Sunnyside.

Currently, these collections are only accessible in person at HPL’s African American History Research Center (AAHRC) at the Gregory School, limiting their reach and impact.

“This generous support from the IMLS allows us to not only safeguard historical recordings but also to bring these important stories to the forefront. We look forward to the positive impact this project will have on our community and the preservation of Houston’s Black history,” said Miguell Ceasar, Head of History Research Centers. “This project will help tell the rich, living history of Black Houstonians, ensuring their stories and contributions are preserved and celebrated for generations to come.”

Click here to listen to a digitized oral history example, featuring the late Rev. Bill Lawson discussing race relations in Houston during the 1960s. This recording, along with many others, is available through HPL’s Digital Archives.

About Houston Public Library
We are a dynamic organization that serves one of the largest service areas –both population and area – in the country. 2.3 million residents in the City of Houston are the primary beneficiaries of a comprehensive customer-focused service delivery strategy.

Our system consists of 44 public service units which include one Central Library, five Regional Libraries, 29 Neighborhood and Express Libraries, three History Research Centers, three TECHLinks, one Satellite location at Children’s Museum Houston, one cafécollege Houston center, and one Mobile Express.

About the African American History Research Center at the Gregory School
The African American History Research Center is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of African Americans in the Houston area and beyond.  Our goal is to link visitors from around the world to the storied history of this city.

The collections provide books, manuscripts, and photographs; the research center hosts events, exhibits, and programs that explore the lives and achievements of African Americans. The free services and events are open to the public and are designed to educate and engage visitors of all ages.


From left to right: John Middleton, interim Chief Operating Officer at Houston Public Library; Betty and Dr. James Key, donors and driving force behind the project; and Nicolas Jimenez, Board Chair of Houston Public Library Foundation.

Houston Public Library Foundation (HPLF) and Houston Public Library (HPL) are proud to announce the successful grand opening of the Dr. James and Betty Key Map Room, which took place on June 13, 2024. The event, celebrating the exhibit Mapping Texas and Houston: Selections from the Houston History Research Center, drew an enthusiastic crowd of history enthusiasts, scholars, and community members.

Event Highlights:

  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: The grand opening commenced with an inspiring ribbon-cutting ceremony, led by Nicolas Jimenez, Board Chair of HPLF, alongside HPL’s Interim Chief Operating Officer, John Middleton, and Dr. James and Betty Key.  This event not only symbolized the mission to preserve and share Houston's rich historical legacy but marked a milestone in our ongoing commitment to providing valuable library services to the Houston community.
  • Thanks & Appreciation: The Houston Public Library Foundation and Key family extended its heartfelt thanks to all donors, partners, and supporters who made this project possible. Your continued contributions will ensure that the Key Map Room will be a lasting resource for generations to come.
  • Family Contributions: Dr. James Key shared a personal story about his lifelong love for maps and how, Betty his wife, initially just indulged him prior to their now shared passion for cartography. Attendees received a heartfelt glimpse into the lives of the individuals behind the exhibit's inspiration.

Exhibit Features:
Over 2,000 maps have found their way into the collection via individual donations, as part of archival collections, and through the state document depository program. The new Key Map Room is a dedicated gallery space for displaying maps of Houston, Texas, and beyond, offering a unique opportunity for the public viewing of these beautiful and educational pieces of history.

  • Rare Historical Maps: Visitors were thrilled to view original maps dating from the 16th century to the present, including early depictions of Texas and the Gulf Coast. These maps offer a visual journey through the region's history, showcasing changes and growth over centuries.
  • Urban Development Maps: The collection includes detailed maps illustrating Houston's transformation from a modest settlement to a bustling metropolis. These maps provide a unique perspective on the city's rapid expansion and urban planning efforts.
  • Dr. Key’s Personal Favorites: The exhibition features Girolamo Ruscelli’s 1574 map, Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova, one of the first maps to focus on the area that would become the Southern half of the United States and Mexico. The map reveals Spanish exploration and colonization of the region, noting the discoveries of famed explorers Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Luis de Moscoso Alvarado. A rare American-made globe is also on display, which was manufactured by the pioneering Boston globe-maker Josiah Loring in 1844. The globe is notable for including the Republic of Texas.

Public Access and Tours:
The Dr. James and Betty Key Map Room is now open to the public during the History Research Center's regular hours. The Mapping Texas and Houston exhibit will be on display through March of 2025.  

Visitor Feedback:
Guests at the opening expressed their admiration for the exhibit's depth and the collective efforts in making history accessible. Many noted the exhibit as “amazing” and thanked Christina Grubitz, curator for HPL, for creating an experience that was both engaging and educational for all ages.


Houston, TX — Houston Public Library (HPL) is pleased to announce extended hours of operation to better accommodate the needs of our community. Starting June 1, 2024, Alief Regional Library, Central Library, and all three History Research Centers will have expanded hours, providing greater access to resources, services, and programs for all customers.
The new hours of operation for select locations are as follows:

AliefNoon - 8 PM8 AM - 6 PM8 AM - 6 PMNoon - 8 PM1 PM - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PM
CentralNoon - 6 PM9 AM - 6 PM9 AM - 6 PM9 AM - 6 PM9 AM - 6 PM10 AM - 6 PM
African American History Research CenterNoon - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PMNoon - 7 PM10 AM - 5 PM8 AM - 5 PM
Family History Research CenterNoon - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PMNoon - 7 PM10 AM - 5 PM8 AM - 5 PM
Houston History Research CenterNoon - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PM11 AM - 6 PM10 AM - 5 PM10 AM - 5 PM


All locations are closed on Sundays.


Interim Chief Operating Officer John Middleton expressed excitement about the change, stating, “This operational change is not just about convenience; the new hours are about our commitment to making the material available to the public. Whether it's for researching, accessing technology, participating in our programs, or simply finding a quiet place to study or read, we are here to serve the community.”


In addition to the extended hours, HPL continues to offer a wide range of services, including:


  • Passport services available
  • Free Wi-Fi and computer access
  • A vast collection of books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, and a Library of Things
  • Educational and recreational programs for all ages
  • Research assistance and resources
  • Meeting and study rooms

Houston Public Library (HPL) is offering FREE tutoring from Trice Education Resources for students in grades K-5 this summer. The Get LIT Summer Literacy Program offers thirty-minute one-on-one and group workshops in both English and Spanish at library locations across Houston. The program is designed to improve literacy skills including comprehension, phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, and vocabulary. Students can use their MYLink library cards to borrow fun books that support their learning needs and are encouraged to register for HPL's Summer Reading Program for chances to win prizes and attend free events.


The Get LIT Summer Literacy Program, which runs through July 26, has openings for young learners at the following library locations:


  • Carnegie Neighborhood Library & Center for Learning - 1050 Quitman St., Houston, TX 77009
  • Mancuso Neighborhood Library - 6767 Bellfort Ave., Houston, TX 77087
  • Vinson Neighborhood Library - 3810 West Fuqua St., Houston, TX 77045 (Only English-language tutoring is available at this location)
  • Young Neighborhood Library - 5107 Griggs Rd., Houston, TX 77021

This program is offered by Trice Education Resources, Inc., an educational consultant firm founded in 1998 that specializes in providing technical assistance to schools in the areas of literacy, professional development, student support, data analysis, and on-site coaching.

Parents and guardians can register their children for the Get LIT Summer Literacy Program using this online form


About Houston Public Library

We are a dynamic organization that serves one of the largest service areas—both population and area—in the country. 2.3 million residents in the City of Houston are the primary beneficiaries of a comprehensive customer-focused service delivery strategy. Our system consists of 44 public service units which include one Central Library, five Regional Libraries, 29 Neighborhood and Express Libraries, three History Research Centers, three TECHLinks, one Satellite location at Children’s Museum Houston, one cafécollege Houston center, and one Mobile Express. For more information about the Houston Public Library’s extended hours and services, visit or call 832-393-1313. 


History of Trice Education Resources, Inc.


Trice Education Resources, Inc. is a consultant firm founded in1998 that specializes in providing technical assistance to schools in the areas of literacy, educational professional development, student support, data analysis, and on-site coaching to enhance staff development and student academic achievement. The primary goal of Trice Education Resources, Inc. is to assist schools and businesses with school reform and literacy growth. 


Trice Education Resources, Inc. has effectively provided services to schools and businesses in the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kansas, New Mexico, Missouri, and Wisconsin by providing schools and businesses within identified areas sustained, continuous professional staff development related to state standards, literacy in reading and mathematics, campus/business goals, professional teacher and administrative academic coaching, and as a result, the increase in teacher/student performance and test scores has been substantial. 


Teacher and administrative professional development are staff-focused but student-centered and directed towards helping administrators, teachers, and staff internalize new teaching behaviors through pedagogy, process, and content standards so that student achievement is actualized.


Houston Public Media published an article on the opening of the new Freedmen's Town Visitor Center. The article highlights the center's role in preserving local history, attracting tourists, and hosting cultural events.


Local civil rights icon and founder of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Reverend William "Bill" Lawson passed away on May 14, 2024, leaving a rich and celebrated legacy. If you would like to learn more about Reverend Lawson, HPL Digital Archives offer some fascinating primary sources.


Our Audiovisual Archives contain two interviews with Reverend Lawson: one originally recorded in 1974, and a second interview from 2008 (from the Mayor Bill White Oral History Collection) which was also videotaped. These two interviews provide a fascinating historical perspective on his work and life in Houston during the years of the Civil Rights Movement.


Reverend Lawson, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza and Rabbi Samuel Karff were known as the "Three Amigos" or "Three Wise Men" for their decades-long friendship and interfaith activism in favor of human rights and the betterment of life for all Houstonians. Archbishop Fiorenza and Rabbi Karff were also interviewed in 2008 and 2007 respectively as part of the Mayor White Oral History Collection. 


In December 2015, Reverend Lawson was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Mrs. Audrey Ann Hoffman Lawson. Mrs. Lawson's funeral program is part of HPL Digital Archives' African American Funeral Program collection and provides a unique perspective into her career as an activist in her own right, and the love and family that she and Reverend Lawson shared. 


The Lawson Collection, or “Lawson Letters,” not only document Reverend William and Mrs. Audrey Hoffman Lawson’s young adulthood and courtship, they also were the primary means of courtship. Beginning in September 1952, young Bill and Audrey exchanged letters for months before ever meeting in person, and what began as a friendly dialogue blossomed into love during the next two years of correspondence. Later in life, Reverend and Mrs. Lawson made their letters available to HPL for digitization. They are available online, an indispensable resource for historians—and anyone who appreciates a great love story!


In response to the murder of George Floyd, Houston Public Library's African American History Research Center (AAHRC) launched the George Floyd Lecture Series to foster difficult yet crucial conversations about racial equity and social justice.


Join us on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at Noon – 2 p.m., for a riveting conversation with guest speaker Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry. Register now or continue reading full media alert.


Houston Public Library (HPL) is opening two new Family Place Libraries™ locations at Alief-David M. Henington Regional Library and Jungman Neighborhood Library. A ribbon cutting for the two new locations will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 from 11 AM to 12 PM at Alief-David M. Henington Regional Library. Guest speakers at the event include Houston City Council member Tiffany Thomas of District F, Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation President and CEO Dr. Julie Baker Finck, and Julie Sudduth, Regional President of PNC Bank Houston. 


Thanks to generous grant support from the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and PNC Foundation, the new Family Place Libraries™ have specifically designed spaces featuring welcoming areas with interactive early literacy materials, games, toys, and books. The HPL team will be provided with exclusive training to expand programs for toddlers and their families.


Read full media alert Houston Public Library Expands its Family Place Program.

As part of our 120th Birthday celebration, we asked our customers to share the books that they love, and to tell us why they love them. The response was amazing! We received more than 120 replies and had to narrow them down to a representative list of 120, which wasn't easy. We've learned that there are all sorts of different reasons to love a book, and that our customers really love historical and fantasy fiction!


The 120 Books YOU Love list links to catalog records for each title, making it easier for anyone to find new titles to love, or to re-visit an old favorite. It's grouped into different genres and age levels, and has a little something for everyone, much like the library itself.


What book or books would you select for your perfect book club, and who would you invite for the discussion? In honor of Earth Day, we asked Steve Stelzer, Program Director of the City of Houston’s Green Building Resource Center (GBRC) and veteran book club organizer, this question.


I’m passionate about the environment. It started with my days as a Boy Scout developing a love of nature in the Adirondacks. I became an architect and later a LEED Accredited Professional with the US Green Building Council, which led to my job with the City of Houston in 2007. I’m a true believer that any conversation or seminar’s potential to change people’s minds pales in comparison to what they would get from a book.


People have to commit their time to a book, which is finely crafted with well-sequenced arguments and can include visual aids. Not to mention that reading improves brain health. I started making business-card-sized booklists in 2003, have used books in seminars and presentations, and I have a current booklist on the GBRC website and a Facebook Page called the Houston Green Book Discussion Group.


Book clubs have been a wonderful study of human nature for me. I started the Blind Men and the Elephant book club in 2009 and held it in the original GBRC in Midtown. I started another one at the Houston Permitting Center in 2012, and later I partnered with Houston Public Library (HPL) for a lunchtime book club. I found some people would be “too busy” to read the books, and still come to the meeting just to hear what the others had to say about them, which shocked me. My lesson is that groups are temporary, and that people come and go, like life, and some people are drawn to communities of like-minded people.


My three favorite books to recommend are The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard, Saving Us by Katherine Hayhoe, and Regeneration by Paul Hawken. These authors are my climate heroes. Annie Leonard is the leader of Greenpeace. Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe helped Houston develop our Climate Action Plan; her book masterfully deals with communication (and miscommunication) about the climate. Paul Hawken’s books are pillars of sustainability. This one talks about how industry can accomplish its goals in a way that regenerates planetary ecosystems.


My ideal book club members would be Rachel Carson, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell, Erin Brockovich, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Van Jones. Rachel started the modern environmental movement with her book Silent Spring. Thanks to her, we have the EPA. I’ve read all Al Gore’s books; his 1992 Earth in the Balance got me going, and The Assault on Reason pushed me towards thinking more about our political system. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point continues to give me hope that we could collectively improve society and the planet. Erin Brockovich’s Superman’s Not Coming did not disappoint, detailing the multitude of bad decisions leading to water pollution nightmares, including Flint, Michigan. Don Miguel Ruiz of The Four Agreements and The Fifth Agreement opened my eyes with fantastic metaphors. And finally, Van Jones lives up to his environmental and social justice rock star reputation with Beyond the Messy Truth. His viewpoint as a southern Black man and experience in the White House would enhance conversation.


I imagine a library in heaven, where these authors would talk about their books and their experiences, and I expect the camaraderie would be exquisite. I’d want people from my book clubs over the years to be a part of the discussion, as well. Hopefully I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with joy and could actually join in, because in heaven I would have perfect recall.

Field is required.