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As we stand on the brink of a new year, it's an ideal moment to reflect on the impactful moments that have defined McAllen Public Library throughout 2023. Through enriching cultural and literary events, our library branches have dedicated themselves to delivering diverse, high-quality services and programs. Join us as we recall our top 10 remarkable achievements of the year and reminisce about the milestones that shaped our journey!

10. MPL in the News
Even 12 years after the grand opening of Main Library, MPL continues to spark viral attention. In May, we were featured as a question on Jeopardy Masters. The question highlighted the transformation of a former big-box retailer space into a 123,000-square-foot public library in McAllen, Texas, featuring a cafe. The answer: "What is WalMart."

Main Library also received additional recognition in August when it was prominently featured in an article titled "Get Lost in the Shelves of the Massive McAllen Public Library," published by Texas Highways.

9. Meeting Center Upgrades
As part of the library's capital projects in 2023, significant AV upgrades were implemented in the Meeting Center at McAllen Public Library. These enhancements encompassed various improvements across rental spaces, catering to diverse needs and technology requirements.

In the Meeting Rooms and Auditorium, new projectors and speakers were installed, enhancing the audio-visual experience for events and presentations. The Conference Rooms and Board Room now feature state-of-the-art wall-mounted 64” HDTVs equipped with HDMI and USB-C laptop connections, facilitating seamless connectivity for presentations and collaborative sessions. Additionally, webcams were strategically integrated into the meeting spaces to further enhance their functionality.

These upgrades signify a considerable investment in our meeting spaces, aiming to create an environment conducive to more productive and engaging meetings for both organizations and individuals utilizing our facilities at Main Library.

8. Teen Essential Shelf
MPL’s Teen Department proudly introduced the Teen Essential Shelf, a designated area where teens can freely access essential personal care items without any formalities. This initiative aims to offer a "grab-what-you-need" resource for basic hygiene products and local mental health resources, supporting both teens and their families.

Situated on a repurposed bookshelf, the Teen Essential Shelf provides much-needed access to essential items, ensuring ease and dignity for those seeking personal care necessities. All items available on the shelf, including basic hygiene products and local mental health resources, are donated by our generous library patrons and the Teen Advisory Committee.

This initiative embodies our commitment to supporting the well-being of teens and their families by offering a discreet and accessible resource within our library community.

7. Collaborations with Community Organizations
Through collaborative efforts with esteemed community leaders and organizations, MPL enhanced the delivery of new and improved services and programs for our patrons. Over the past year, we forged impactful partnerships with notable entities such as the International Museum of Arts & Science, South Texas College, the University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley, MHP Salud, Workforce Solutions, and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

These collaborations have resulted in the introduction of meaningful experiences, including but not limited to the World Languages Festival, MPL Job Fair, and Community Health Fair. Such partnerships enable us to offer diverse and enriching opportunities that resonate deeply with our community, reflecting our commitment to providing valuable resources and experiences to our patrons.

6. Teen Advisory Committee (T.A.C.)
The standouts at MPL this year were the dynamic members of our Teen Advisory Committee (T.A.C.). Their dedication went beyond mere presence; they actively participated in numerous community outreach endeavors and played a pivotal role in organizing and executing various library events such as the South Texas Book Festival, Summer Reading Kickoff, Día, and the Holly Jolly Party. Their commitment and advocacy for the library were recognized with prestigious awards, including the Best Volunteer Program of the Year from the Texas Festival and Events Association and a Bronze award from the International Festival & Events Association.

Do you know a teen eager to join the excitement? Teens are encouraged to attend a T.A.C. meeting to explore becoming an official member and engaging in community service projects. Joining the T.A.C. not only offers valuable community service hours for college applications but also provides opportunities to forge new friendships and enjoy diverse experiences within the community! It's a fantastic way to have fun while making a difference.

5. MPL Went Fine Free for Youth
MPL took a significant step by eliminating fines for overdue children and teen materials. This decision coincided with National Library Week, celebrated from April 23-29. MPL proudly joins a growing number of public libraries in Texas by adopting a fine-free policy, particularly for youth.

Fines often act as a deterrent to using MPL, which is dedicated to providing free access to information for all. By removing fines for children and teens, MPL aims to eliminate barriers to accessing crucial information necessary for their academic success and personal growth. This initiative underscores our commitment to fostering a more inclusive and accessible library experience for our younger community members.

4. New Enhancements to Dewey Decimal Trail
In August, MPL announced the installation of new plaques along its popular Dewey Decimal Trail at Main Library, located at 4001 N. 23rd St. This picturesque walking trail has been a favorite destination for library patrons and enthusiasts alike, and the addition of these plaques adds a new layer of educational engagement to the experience.

The Dewey Decimal Trail, nestled within the library’s beautifully landscaped surroundings, features 10 distinct pictorial guideposts, each corresponding to the 10 subject areas of the renowned Dewey Decimal System. This unique feature allows visitors to not only enjoy a leisurely stroll, but also to gain insight into the various disciplines that contribute to the vast world of knowledge encompassed by the library’s collection.

3. Countdown to the Solar Eclipse / NASA Grant
In October, all MPL branches presented a distinctive event series named Countdown to the Eclipse. This special lineup of events was designed to build anticipation leading up to the highly anticipated solar eclipse on October 14th, offering educational and entertaining experiences for the entire community. The series encompassed various activities such as crafts, storytime sessions, engaging discussions, and exclusive opportunities to explore the wonders of the UTRGV H-E-B Planetarium.

A remarkable highlight of this event series was the distribution of 5,000 solar eclipse glasses to the community. Additionally, MPL was honored to receive a NASA Grant, facilitating the provision of educational resources about the eclipse and equipping patrons with necessary viewing equipment for this celestial phenomenon. This grant further enhanced the library's efforts in delivering comprehensive and engaging information about the solar eclipse.

2. A Decade of the International Award-Winning South Texas Book Festival

We commemorated a decade of family engagement at the South Texas Book Festival, formerly known as McAllen Book Festival. The event was a weeklong festival with authors, captivating readings, book signings, creative crafts, and non-stop fun!

This milestone event marked a decade of celebrating the vibrant literary culture of the Rio Grande Valley, captivating readers of every age with a diverse range of activities. The festival’s anniversary logo proudly featured Marty, the beloved mascot cat of MPL, extending an inviting paw to all for this extraordinary celebration!

Globally recognized, the South Texas Book Festival stood out for its innovation and inspiration, earning McAllen Public Library esteemed accolades, including the prestigious Grand Pinnacle Award from the International Festival & Events Association, and the distinguished Best in Texas Award from the Texas Festival & Events Association.

1. Grand Reopening of Palm View & Lark Branch Libraries

In early December, MPL announced the Grand Reopening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony held at both the Palm View Branch Library and the Lark Branch Library. Marking nearly 23 years since their initial openings, these revitalized spaces were unveiled to the delight of our community members.

The transformation of these branches features vibrant new colors, innovative designs, and furniture tailored to enhance the reading and study experience for patrons. The redesigned spaces aim to create a welcoming environment for all library patrons, signifying a renewed commitment to our community's literacy, education, and enrichment.

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