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.
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.