As you have hopefully heard by now, 2021 is Harris County Public Library’s Centennial anniversary! From the incredible work our archivist team has put into the vast Harris County Digital Archive, to our series of delightful videos celebrating different decades in our library’s history, we have been working overtime to find ways to help you celebrate this historical milestone with us all year long.
Out of the plethora of video projects we’ve shared with you this year, one of my personal favorites (not just because I edit, act in, and help write it, but that helps) is our ongoing video series “The Librarian’s Guide To Time Travel.” The show follows the four members of HCPL’s new Mobile Outreach Librarian team, Celeste Plew, Taylor Monroe, Sarah Ondras, and Leif Steenson (hey, that’s me!) They use the titular mysterious oversized tome to travel to each decade in our library’s history and learn about the history of our library and county, as well as the pop culture of the time, first-hand from both famous and little-known historical figures of the time period.
Since February of this year, we have taken 5 trips through spacetime to meet luminaries from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s with at least two more trips on the docket to round out the twentieth century. As you plunge through the fabric of reality with our heroes, see this blog post as your personal travel companion. I've compiled some of the most notable books, films, and music we mention in each video, as well as other supplementary material, so that you can check them out using your library card!
In their first trip to the past, the librarians meet Elnora Buchanan, head librarian for HCPL between 1932-1939, and one of the first to pilot the then brand new bookmobile. The backgrounds used in this video are from the excellent bookmobiles collection, one of twelve themed collections of archival material available in the Harris County Digital Archive.
You should also click or touch the picture above to check out HCPL's official three hour 1930s centennial playlist on the Freegal Music website! It features several artists mentioned in the video, like Benny Goodman, Louie Armstrong, and Billie Holiday.
The 40s video saw our librarians meeting the beloved first librarian of the West Universty branch, Thelma Ann Sanders, as she operated the library's temporary location in a realtor's office during the height of World War 2. Thelma famously lived across the street from the library and was known to run from her kitchen to help patrons after hours, which we added to the video.
The 40s centennial playlist includes chart toppers like Frank Sinatra, The Glenn Miller Band, Dinah Shore, and Nat King Cole!
The Librarian's visit to 1950s sent them to the early days of KPRC studios in 1959, where they run into grumpy Chief Engineer Paul Huhndorff as he searches for the titular host of "The Larry Kane Show", a local rock and roll TV show modeled on American Bandstand. A comprehensive history of early Houston television can be found in the book "The Fault Does Not Lie With Your Set: The First 40 Years Of Houston Television", cowritten by Mr. Huhndorff himself!
The 1950s centennial playlist features Rock N Roll and R&B legends like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Sam Cooke!
For the 1960s, our heroes got an inside look at the "eighth wonder of the world," the Astrodome, as they stumbled into the lavish private suite of politician and land developer Roy Hofheinz during an exciting late 1969 baseball game between the Houston Astros and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The 1960s centennial playlist has artists mentioned in the video like The Beach Boys and The Beatles!
In the 1970s, the Librarian's met their most exciting interview subject yet when they traveled to September 1979 to meet Stephen King during an actual visit to the Cypress Creek Branch Library! The video also features HCPL's own Kelly Hayden presenting his very best 70s hippie outfit and british accent.
The 1970s centennial playlist features artists mentioned in the video like The Beegees, Funkadelic, and Lynard Skynard!
I hope you have enjoyed this companion to our Time Traveler video series, and maybe found something good to read, watch or listen to! Keep an eye out on our YouTube page and social media feeds so you can be the first to watch our next installment. See you in the past!