“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”
|– Ray Bradbury|
June 26th, 2021 marks the 33rd Birthday of the Evelyn Meador Library in Seabrook, TX. Although the Evelyn Meador Library is only 33 this year, the Harris County Public Library system has been making an impact on the community since 1921. (Digital Archive 2021)
This small coastal town has kept the joy of reading alive throughout the years, even through major disasters such as the floods, hurricanes, a global pandemic and even a recent winter storm.
Although we live in a fast-paced, diverse, and often rapidly-changing world, these challenges have made public libraries even more important to their local communities. Libraries are essential to providing people access to the knowledge.
1920s – 1940s
The first Harris County Public Library branch in Seabrook was founded 1921. In the early 1930s, the community built a stand-alone library building (seen here). Circulation continued to grow throughout the Great Depression.
The City of Seabrook was born.
In August 1970, a library study committee in Seabrook recommended the city begin offering limited library service at the Miramar Shopping Center in partnership with HCPL. The nearest libraries were the La Porte Library and the Freeman Memorial Library in Clear Lake.
In June 1985, Rex and Evelyn Meador donated 21 acres of land to the City of Seabrook in 1983, 5 of those acres went to Harris County for a new library.
Formation of the Friends of Evelyn Meador Branch Library
The Seabrook Friends of the Library soon formed to help raise funds for the new building. The County agreed that the building would be a minimum of 5,000 square feet and earmarked funds from a 1982 bond fund to begin construction. Rex and Evelyn Meador (second from left and center) are seen here with the President of the Seabrook Friends of the Library, Jim Hargrove (second from the right), accepting donations for the library fund.
In October 1985, the Friends of the Library surprised Evelyn Meador with the news that the new library would be named for her. On
January 18, 1986, the ground was broken for the new library building. The cake for the groundbreaking featured a construction hat.
On October 18 1994, Rex Meador passed away. Portraits of Rex and Evelyn Meador hang side by side in the library.
By the late 2000s, the county made plans to construct a new 20,000 square foot building for the community. However, in September 2008, the existing library was damaged by wind and water from Hurricane Ike. The existing 55,000 books survived with minimal damage. They were safely removed and stored while the building was closed. The new building would feature a computer lab, a young adult area, a parents' room, and a bookstore for the Friends of the Evelyn Meador Library. The $6 million project was jointly funded by Harris County and the City of Seabrook. It was constructed on the original site.
The grand opening of the new building was on June 28, 2011. The new facility is a hurricane-resistant green space. A wall of windows overlooking the Rex Meador Park provides lots of natural light during the day; the windows are protected during storms by roll-down hurricane shutters. Built at a higher elevation than the old building, the facility includes water-conscious landscaping and storm drains in the parking lot to prevent flooding. The library is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified building.
The branch celebrated its 25th anniversary in June 2013 with a party and a cake featuring Pearl the Pelican.
In June 2018, the branch celebrated its 30th anniversary. Later that summer, a Little Free Library was installed at the flagpoles near the nature trail. Girl Scout Sigourney Lee constructed the library for her Girl Scout Silver Award. The project was sponsored by the Friends of the Evelyn Meador Branch Library.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Evelyn Meador staff transitioned to virtual and curbside services to continue offering exceptional customer service to the community. While the building was closed, the team made face masks, regularly restocked the Little Free Library with books donated to the Friends, and held virtual storytimes and programs. Once curbside service started in the summer of 2020, staff created book bundles, maintained the community herb garden, and filled the many holds placed by their devoted patrons. In February 2021, Winter Storm Uri hit Texas with snow and unprecedented cold. The branch reopened to the public on May 19, 2021. Children's Librarian Shelly Lynn Pearson is seen here on opening day with a young customer and his stack of new books to read. After a challenging year for the Seabrook community, the library is back in business!
The library has also been hard at work with updating their outdoor space. In, June 2020, the Konradi Memorial Garden was built in front of the library. The garden features over 30 herbs including fennel, thyme, and rosemary.
In November 2020, the community came together to support the Edible Tree Forest. The ceremony included the planting of fruit trees by volunteers and the Seabrook Rotaract. The project is long term and will support the area with free, nutritious food for many years to come.
The Outdoor Learning Exploration Space, created in 2021, is where story time currently takes place. Ms. Pearson provides delightful stories to children of all ages who wish to attend. This interactive play-date occurs in the center of the library’s newest garden beds. Each bed has a literary theme from the Bible, to Shakespeare, to Peter Rabbit and more.
2021 Digital Archive: https://www.digitalarchive.hcpl.net/exhibits/evelyn-meador-branch-library