Christine McNew and the importance of library service for children

Christine McNew

This week we had the sad task of announcing the death of a wonderful TSLAC colleague and extremely devoted professional, Christine McNew, Youth Services Consultant. Christine dedicated her life to the advancement of excellence in library services to children. Following our post on the Library Developments blog, many expressions of sympathy and disbelief poured in from across the state and nation. These individuals understood the outstanding work that Christine has done over the last 17 years at the Texas State Library and throughout her career.

Christine left the agency following the disastrous budget reduction in the 2012-2013 biennium. We felt extremely lucky to be able to hire her back two years ago and since rejoining the staff, Christine worked very hard to re-establish TSLAC’s support of library services for children in all parts of the state. She produced new workshop series, both in person and by webinar, she supported more robust adoption of summer reading programs in Texas libraries, she worked to revive TSLAC support of El día de los niños, día de los libros, Day of the child, day of the book, and she led the charge to get libraries to adopt summer nutrition programs.

Among her many remarkable achievements, Christine’s work with Family Place in Texas could rank as her greatest and most enduring accomplishment. Over the past two years, Christine has assisted 55 Texas public libraries to receive training in the Family Place model of library services to children. With TSLAC sponsorship, using federal LSTA funding, staff from these libraries have travelled to the Middle Country Library in New York State to learn about this total approach to serving children from learning about brain development, to selecting children’s room furniture, materials selection, and modeling reading behavior for children.

Dedication of the Family Place children’s program at the Bee Cave Public Library.

Last Friday I attended the dedication of the new Family Place children’s room at the Bee Cave Public Library. On hand were dignitaries including the mayor and others to celebrate this achievement. Kathleen Deerr of Family Place explained how children who enter school reading or ready to read will be more successful in school and more productive, and civically engaged adults. The investment that we make in the intellectual development of the preschool child in our public libraries is not just a nice luxury, it is a down payment on citizens who will contribute to our economy and engage in our civic institutions.

Christine McNew understood these truths and she worked tirelessly to advance these programs in hundreds of libraries across the state. Through the Family Place program, 55 libraries statewide are now strongly focused on effective methods of ensuring that generations of young Texans will have the tools they need to succeed in life.

That is a legacy worthy of our appreciation and celebration.

Welcome back, Texas Legislature

It’s that time again–the return of the Texas Legislature. It happens in January of every odd numbered year and lasts for 140 days. The 85th Regular Session convened this Tuesday.

The TSLAC display in the ground floor rotunda of the Capitol.

The TSLAC display in the ground floor rotunda of the Capitol.

And there to greet House and Senate members and their families and other visitors to the Capitol was a display featuring the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in the ground floor rotunda. The display features beautifully designed panels showcasing the work of the agency, the four major divisions, and the Center for the Book. The display also included the giant postcard from our “Wish You Were Here” vintage postcard display in our lobby and all week visitors were making their own selfie postcards using the display.

This week we also welcomed about 30 staffers from legislative and policy

The Library Development and Networking banner in our display.

The Library Development and Networking banner in our display.

offices to our agency to learn about services that we offer to legislators and their staffs, including records management, archival resources, and access to TexShare online content.

 

We love to talk about our agency and we love to serve the public and state government. I am hopeful that we hear often from our friends in legislative offices during this session and that we can make their very difficult and challenging work a bit easier.

We look forward to a fun and frantic session. If you happen to be over at the Capitol for any reason, we hope you will stop in and visit us and learn more about our services.