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.

4 thoughts on “Christine McNew and the importance of library service for children

  1. On behalf of the Family Place Libraries team, we send our sincere sympathies to Christine’s family, everyone at TSLAC and the library staff throughout the state. We are deeply saddened by this shocking news. For the past three years we have worked closely with Christine to bring the Family Place Libraries model to Texas libraries. Her quiet, caring manner and her fierce conviction to bring the best library service possible to the children of Texas was second to none. She was one of the most professional, effective and gracious individuals I have had the honor of working with. The library professional has lost an incredible leader and we have all lost a wonderful friend.

  2. My deepest sympathy goes out to Christine’s family and all who knew and loved her.Texas libraries and librarians, and the children and families we serve have lost a great friend and strong advocate with Christine’s passing. She was a true library professional who brought out the best in everyone she worked with, in person or through phone and email conversations. I am glad I had the opportunity to know Christine over the years. I know her legacy of caring about children and their future will continue to impact young lives for years to come.

  3. Christine’s legacy of service to librarianship and especially to the children and youth of Texas stand as a testament to her commitment to taking on challenging projects and working tirelessly to make them successful. She had precise attention to detail in all the work she did.
    She took her work seriously and wanted it to be the best it could be. Both in and out of work, Christine’s sunny disposition was steadfast. She was a joy to be around and I feel lucky to count her as a friend. Godspeed.

  4. Christine’s untimely death was quite shocking. Years ago she was quite active in the Houston storytelling community and those of us who are still around will always remember her sweetness and quiet ways as she went about getting things done. Sending prayers of comfort to her family.

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