Pictured above: Library patrons of all ages browse and read at the Mary Lou Reddick Public Library.
Supporting and promoting Texas libraries has been a key part of our mission since the Texas Book Festival’s founding, and we’d like to proudly highlight some of the libraries we’ve worked with across our great state, like the Mary Lou Reddick Public Library in Lake Worth.
In 1961, inside a small room next to the city jail in Lake Worth, Texas, the Lake Worth Public Library began. Now, almost 60 years and three different locations later, the Mary Lou Reddick Public Library of Lake Worth is a thriving community hub, providing their small but active population of 5,000 with access to free programs, classes, internet, and, of course, books. The library now employs four librarians, including their longest tenured library employee, Virginia Ross, who has been with the library for over 45 years.
Their programs and classes include free yoga every Saturday morning, sometimes paired with a mindfulness workshop—both taught by local professionals. Lara Strother, Director of Library and Community Services, says the library plans to begin offering yoga for kids in the next few months, to take place alongside their summer reading program.
“Additionally, the Lake Worth Senior Center, which is in the same building as the Library, offers weekly chair yoga classes,” Strother says. “Since we share the building with the senior center, we love partnering to feature intergenerational programs, like our popular game nights.”
The library’s other programs include workshops on hula hooping, slime-making, miming, letter writing, organizing the Marie Kondo way, and even ghost hunting. They’ve also hosted one-time events like ballet and Irish step dancing performances, free-flight bird demonstrations (with birds such as hawks, owls, and falcons), as well as their regularly scheduled story-times and monthly “Tail Waggin’ Tutoring” sessions, with resident therapy dog Bane (Strother asks, “What could be more fun than reading to a doggo?” and the answer, dear reader, is nothing we can think of).
“People may check out fewer books than they used to, but our library continues to grow as community hub,” Strother says. “Free, enriching programs are a great way to draw non-library users into your space.”
Strother has been a librarian for the Mary Lou Reddick Public Library for twenty years and says she loves all the different roles her job allows her to take on.
“One day I’m in a budget meeting over at City Hall and the very next I’ll be reading to preschoolers during our weekly story time,” she says. “For me, the highlight has always been helping people find what they’re looking for, no matter what shape it takes. This is my passion.”
Strother says working in a city like Lake Worth has many benefits, and one of the biggest is how involved they can be with their patrons.
“I feel like the primary benefit of serving a small community is that you really get to know the patrons.”