Looking back at 2020, McAllen Public Library strived to continue implementing the best quality of programs and library services to our community during a time very different from other years. Eventful and filled with many new experiences, we invite you to revisit some of our favorite moments from the last year at the Library! We are so grateful to our Library Advisory Board who continued to meet with us virtually to offer their support of MPL.
10. Summer Reading Challenge
While our annual Summer Reading Program (SRP) has been a tradition at the Library for over fifty years, this year we had to get innovative in how we served our community due to COVID-19. The goal was the same as previous years: to foster the love of reading.
The result was our 2020 Virtual Summer Reading Challenge for all ages (children, teens, and adults). Participants were tasked with completing literary challenges, such as watching a movie based on a book or reading with a pet, to receive a prize.
In lieu of our yearly SRP Launch Party, MPL hosted an all-day virtual kick-off with virtual programs for all ages to enjoy, with over 5,500 viewers tuning in on our social media pages. In addition to storytimes and crafts for all ages, staff used the virtual kickoff to explain the reading challenges and show patrons how to register for the SRP.
9. FREE COVID-19 Testing at the Library
Through a partnership with Hidalgo County and the National Guard, MPL was set up as a temporary COVID testing site outside under the canopy on various days through October and November. In December, continuing the partnership with Hidalgo County, MPL was the site of a pop-up self-serve testing site. This free service provided important and safe COVID testing for more than 700 community members.
8. Grab & go meals
McAllen Public Library, in partnership with the McAllen ISD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, served free meals during the summer months to school age children living in the area. The Summer Meals Program ensures youth 18 years and under who are vulnerable to food insecurity continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Due to the pandemic, Summer Meals distribution pivoted to a 2-day a week, minimal-contact, curbside delivery of food bundles under the canopy throughout the Fall. Throughout the Summer and Fall, an astounding 36,616 meals were distributed at MPL.
7. STAYING CONNECTED
McAllen Public Library encouraged the community to stay connected while practicing social distancing with an expansion of its virtual services called Connect with MPL. Connect with MPL provides families who are spending their time working, learning, and playing from home the opportunity to stay connected with the library through a variety of virtual features for everyone in the family. Such features include virtual storytime, online activities for all ages, and digital features like E-Book of the Day; Kanopy Film of the Day; DIY Crafts for Teens; E-Book Talk; the Fight Boredom Challenge; and more.
6. NEW SERVICES Launched
In early February, McAllen Public Library launched the Wi-Fi Hotspot Lending Program. MPL cardholders are now able to access free, unlimited high-speed internet from almost anywhere through the library’s new, innovative Wi-Fi hotspot initiative. City of McAllen residents can connect a tablet, smartphone or laptop computer to the Internet from home, a public space, or wherever free Internet access is not available.
With our Drive-Thru Pickup Service, patrons may pick up requested materials and receive their new or replacement library card. They can also pick up MPL’s latest services: Book Bundles for children, Buzz Kits for teens, and Grab and Go crafts for adults.
Mobile printing services were introduced this year at all three MPL locations. Patrons can use their personal computer or mobile device to conveniently print to the library’s printers from anywhere. Simply submit documents for printing and come to the library to release and pick up your document. Since its launch in September, more than 4,213 mobile prints were generated, making it a very popular option.
We're also excited to announce our newest collection-- video games! Games are available for check-out for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. Games can be borrowed for one week at a time. This service is currently only available to MPL card holders.
5. World-Renowned children’s Author Visits MPL
Rosemary Wells is an award winning author and her books and characters are known all over the world. “Meet & Greet with author Rosemary Wells” was a two-day event that gave local schools and the Rio Grande Valley an opportunity to experience an intimate author session. The two-day event included school visits, author storytimes, an adult workshop, and an opportunity to get her autograph and picture taken. All this led up to the unveiling of the permanent Rosemary Wells art exhibit in Main Library’s Children’s Department featuring original artwork from Max’s Valentine, which is sure to inspire young readers for years to come.
4. South Texas Reads!: Your hidden superpower
South Texas Reads! was a region-wide literary event that encouraged the Rio Grande Valley community to read the same book at the same time and then discuss it during a South Texas Book Festival special event series that included two virtual discussion groups and an online presentation by the author. The public was invited to pick up a free copy of the book at any MPL location, including Curbside Drive-Thru at the Main Library.
This year’s book was Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness that Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone and the discussion featured Adrienne Bankert, a national news correspondent with ABC News who has won two Emmys for her work as an interviewer, reporter, and weekend entertainment anchor on Good Morning America.
3. MPL LauncheS the World Languages Collection
One of our highlights of the year was the launch of our World Languages Collection, which introduced new materials in Korean, Tagalog and Hindi. Leading up to the unveiling of the collection, our Discover Languages Week was a celebration of international culture and languages. A temporary exhibit of beautiful Korean Lanterns was also on display, on loan to the City of McAllen from the City of Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. Our week-long programming ended with our first World Languages Festival, which featured free food samples from McAllen’s diverse restaurants, children’s crafts and activities, KPop, multilingual storytellers, and more!
2. STBF Goes Virtual
In late October, we kicked off our 7th annual book festival with an exciting addition to our celebration of culture and literacy! For the first time, the South Texas Book Festival (STBF) went virtual and included literary sessions for adults. This year’s event was sponsored by H-E-B Helping Here, Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza, Driscoll Health Plan and consisted of four days of free diverse and interesting offerings of national and regional presenters who participated in readings, discussions, and a magic show.
Adults were invited to Poetry & Wine: An Evening of Literature with two celebrated poets from South Texas on Thursday, October 29th. Participants were able to enjoy a favorite beverage at home while listening to 2020 Texas Poet Laureate, Emmy Perez, and Jose Antonio Rodriguez read from their books of poetry. The following evening showcased South Texas Reads!, featuring Adrienne Bankert, a national news correspondent with ABC News.
Our virtual BOOKTACULAR event on Halloween showcased a lineup of authors for all ages, including Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator and author, Raúl the Third, and New York Times Bestselling author of WONDER, R. J. Palacio. Closing the festival on Sunday, November 1st was a safe drive-in movie screening of “Wonder,” based on R. J. Palacio’s bestselling novel.
Free books for children and teens were distributed thanks to donations from an H-E-B Read3 Grant, H-E-B Helping Here, and South Texas Literacy Coalition.
1. Award Winning LIBRARY
In 2020, the Texas Festival & Events Association (TFEA) announced that the South Texas Book Festival won 22 awards! Among those was the prestigious Zenith Award, TFEA’s highest overall award category in the Kaliff Marketing Awards Competition! Other categories MPL brought home awards for included
Best Organization Website, Best Event Program, Best Company Image, Best Sponsor Partner, Best Volunteer Program, Best Children’s Programming, Best Community Outreach Program, Best Social Media Campaign, and several more!