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Dispatches from Texas Libraries: La Joya Public Library and Hidalgo Public Library

2017 April 27
by Cindy Fisher

Dispatches from Texas Libraries –  La Joya Public Library and Hidalgo Public Library
In our effort to highlight the libraries that we visit while on our travels, this post is a part of our ongoing blog series titled Dispatches from Texas Libraries where we will raise up a library and the work they are doing for their community.

I had the great fortune of visiting not one, but two libraries while in the Rio Grande Valley supporting Kim Lehman’s STEAM in Preschool Storytime workshops back in mid-March.


I first visited with Library Director Susana Villegas at the La Joya Public Library in La Joya, TX.  Susana toured me around her library and showed me some of their seasonal décor such as the decorated tree celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and how they engaged the community with a coloring contest included in their city’s water bill to each household. We also talked at length about how Susana can use Edge to assess her library’s technology needs, get a customized action plan for ways in which to communicate those needs to stakeholders, and compare her library’s technology with other libraries of her size.  Edge is available for free for accredited public libraries in Texas and is courtesy of the Texas State Library and IMLS.  Before I left, we took pictures in front of their environmentally friendly and up-cycled reading nook igloo made from gallon milk jugs!


I then made my way to Hidalgo Public Library, which sits just two miles north of the border of Mexico and Hidalgo’s sister city of Reynosa.  Upon entering the library, I was excited to see members of the library and the city IT department upgrading the software of their 3D printer; the library is one of seven libraries in the Rio Grande Valley that received a 3D printer and training through CTLS via a TSLAC special projects grant entitled 3D Labs @ Your Library.  Already they have hosted a few classes from the local elementary school to introduce students to the concepts of 3D printing and to show students how to print 3D objects.

Director Raul Sanchez, Assistant Director David Vergara, and City I.T. Manager Rick Mendoza then toured me around the library as we chatted about the kinds of technology that Hidalgo Public Library has implemented. Their meeting room includes a large flat screen monitor to project from the meeting room’s computer.  When it isn’t booked for official meetings, it can be used by the public and the screen doubles as digital sign board.

One of the most impressive features of Hidalgo Public Library is its huge computer lab which contains 10 Apple iMacs and 30 PCs! The computers are in high demand from their community and they will begin offering digital literacy workshops in the near future; during our conversation  we discussed available digital literacy resources such as GCF Learn Free curriculum, along with TechBoomers and the State Library’s adaptable digital literacy toolkit. Hidalgo Public Library currently uses Fortress Grand for their print and time management software and Asst. Director David Vergara walked me through the process of how they assign patrons to their respective computers. It’s a very neatly organized and efficient system!

In addition to supporting members of their community with their resources, HPL also hosts many amenities found in a print shop such as a large format printer and a laminating machine. This service makes them indispensable to other city departments for printing signage and other needs of the municipality.

Last but certainly not least is one of my favorite parts of the Hidalgo Public Library – their children’s area and teen space. I was very lucky to visit their library after they had just finished decorating the teen space with an entire wall dedicated to comics and graphic novels.  While they are in the process of moving around some furniture to expand their children’s area, they also wanted to highlight their graphic novel collection.  Children’s and teen librarians Anabel Pintor and Suhey Rios hit upon a great idea to decorate the wall with visuals from their collection!  It’s hard not to be drawn to this collection with wallpaper like this! (Not to worry, no books were harmed in the making of this wall!)

I am so grateful to the library staff at both La Joya Public Library and Hidalgo Public Library for taking time out of their busy day to show me around and show off the wonderful ways you are impacting your community.

Do you want to us to visit and highlight the work your library is doing? Email me (Cindy Fisher) at, Kyla Hunt at or Katherine Adelberg at

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