Pictured above: Sowmya Bondugula reads a picture book for the Pflugerville Public Library’s recent Diwali celebration.
Think of a library, and the first thing that comes to mind is often a cool, quiet building filled with books and a librarian who will gently shush the library patrons if they disturb the other readers. However, if you frequent your local library, you probably know public libraries also host events, workshops, and celebrations of every sort to serve their community.
The Pflugerville Public Library, which Youth Services Librarian Amanda Cawthon says “has grown from a tiny storefront in 1982 to a bustling community hub,” has seen a great increase in both content circulation and patron attendance since their building expansion in 2013. Cawthon credits their community’s loyalty and engagement in part to Pflugerville Public Library’s “great team that works together to provide the best possible service, from circulation staff that goes above and beyond every day to the technical services staff that keeps a steady stream of new material on the shelves to the program staff that is never afraid to try new event ideas.”
“One thing that really makes us stand out is that we are very pet-friendly—more like pet-obsessed,” Cawthon says. “We foster cats from the Pflugerville Animal Shelter in the staff offices and people interested in adopting are welcome to visit them there. We’ve also fostered a guinea pig and a very ill-behaved bunny that caused one staff member to barricade herself behind her desk.”
Pflugerville Public Library also helps cats and kittens from their local animal shelter find families with their monthly Kitty Cafe, where they invite their patrons to enjoy a cup of coffee (or non-caffeinated cocoa) while interacting with the animals. Cawthon also says patrons are welcome to bring well-behaved, leashed pets to the library at any time—but especially at Pet Pfest. This annual celebration of Pflugerville pets offers pet-themed crafts, educational presentations on pet care, professional pet photos, and a pet costume contest, as well as features special guests like miniature horses and exotic reptiles.
The Pflugerville Public Library is also currently celebrating a year of conscious kindness with The Kindness Revolution™.
“It began with our end of summer event last year, Pay It Forward Pflugerville,” Cawthon says. “We invited local service organizations to attend to share information about volunteer opportunities and set up service-oriented crafts activities like decorating kindness rocks, making cards to send to children in hospitals, and making dog toys to donate to the animal shelter. We have continued the “revolution” with kindness themed activities throughout the year. Once a month, the children at Kids Crafternoon donate their finished crafts to decorate a local nursing home instead of taking them home. The library’s Ukulele Club visits the nursing home to play for the residents. We’ll wrap up the year of kindness this July with another Pay It Forward event, but hope the initiative continues to impact the community.”
The city of Pflugerville, which comes by its unique name by way of German heritage, is a quickly growing and diversifying population, which has led the Pflugerville Public Library to introduce more programs and events to serve community interests and needs. Their monthly events include a conversational ESL group, adult craft night, DiversiTeen Book Club, a ukulele club, and Bilingual Storytime.
“We also hold annual events celebrating the various cultures represented in our city, including celebrations for Día de los Muertos, Diwali, and Juneteenth,” Cawthon says. “Our most successful annual event, in terms of attendance, is our annual Comic Con. Last year, over 2,000 people attended. The event features panels with comic book writers and artists, cosplayers, and voice actors, crafts, drawing lessons, video game and tabletop game demos, food trucks, a cosplay contest, and more. We rely on the involvement of the staff, volunteers, board members, Friends of the Library, and support from other city departments to make the event a success each year.”
As one of their two Youth Services Librarians, Cawthon works with the library’s Teen Advisory Group, who she calls “an amazing group of young adults.” The group, which started meeting in 2013, give local teens a chance to help plan future teen events, recommend new YA books, and give suggestions for teen services.
Cawthon herself is a longtime member of the Pflugerville Public Library, having grown up in the area and being a longtime card-carrying library patron.
“I still have a copy of Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman that I won during the library’s Summer Reading Program in 1995,” she says. “I have loved getting to see the library continue to grow with the community.”
Keep up with Pflugerville Public Library’s programs and events by visiting their website or Facebook profile. You can also read a recent article by Amanda Cawthon on the importance of early literacy and reading aloud to children.