Our Library in Harlingen and how it grew


The current Harlingen Library collection is highly diversified. There are 67,268 adult books that include 1,067 which are Texana and 1,967 genealogy.

Reference material number 2,956. Videos number 4,276 and children’s books 28,762. In addition, the library offers a number of monitors with various functions. These include: 3 OPACs (catalog computers); 2 Self Service Stations; Reservation Station; 1 Microfilm Computer; 20 Reference Computers; 20 Periodicals Computers; 10 Nonfiction Computers (CLAB); and 5 Children’s Computers.

The new library recognizes the city fathers who helped it to come into existence by placing a bronze plaque near the first floor south entrance. A similar earlier plaque, once at the Lon C. Hill Library, is also posted. Opposite them is a commemorative plaque for 25-year-old Harlingenite Pfc. Darrell W. Shipp, an Army soldier killed in Bagdad, Iraq, in January 2007.

April of 2016 sees the Library Board formulate a five-year strategic plan with five master goals. These are: Goal 1: Grow and sustain readers and lifelong learners

Goal 2: Establish HPL as a social hub

Goal 3: Improve patron access and understanding of technology

Goal 4: Improve library accessibility within the community

Goal 5: Staff development

Any one wishing to investigate these in depth may go to https://harlingenpubliclibrary.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/strategic-plan-2016-2021-002.pdf

This same month the city earmarks $90,000 for library patron furniture designed with electric outlets to accommodate advancing technology.

A year later the Junior League of Harlingen embarks on fund raising campaign with a goal of $300,000.

This will be utilized to create a special Children’s Library and a Teen Library. The League commences its fund drive by holding its 70th Anniversary Charity Ball in November 2017. It benefits the Harlingen Library Project.

The library’s auditorium over the years has hosted meetings for a number of the city’s organizations and is well suited for audio-visual presentations. With its current hours of serving the public at 56 hours a week and even extending into the evening hours, the library serves to accommodate as many as possible.

In 2015 the library commenced celebrating National Library Week with special events. These grew and improved with each succeeding year. In April 2017 the library joined with Viva Streets to enhance the festivities. There were 32 vendors at the library alone and an estimated 4,000 participants were said to have attended.

Throughout each month at least 16 organizations conduct free Adult Education sessions in the library. These organizations encompass a wide range of activities ranging from quilting to tech tutoring to genealogy to computer classes. Also, in addition to the adult education, the library has nine Youth Services programs.

These include, among others, Baby/Toddler Story Time, Lego Day, Chess Club, and Craft Days. The public may gather more information on events at the Harlingen Public library by visiting https://harlingenpubliclibrary.wordpress.com/ where calendars are available for children, teen, and adult events.

The library is not an entity to rest on its laurels.

Both internally and externally it has established goals and standards to meet. As an example the reference department goals are: #1 continuously upgrade information access; #2 continuously improve one-to-one access; #3 continuously train personnel; #4 continue to provide programs that meet the needs of a wide variety of patrons; #5 increase awareness of materials, programs, and services; #6 develop and upgrade the reference section collection; #7 work on archive organization and guidelines.

Similar vision and mission statements have been formulated for other library departments as well as the library as a whole.

The Library’s Mission Statement reads: We exist to build bridges that strengthen the ties of our community.

To innovate new pathways for people to connect with information and each other. To inspire imagination, curiosity, and passion toward a culture of learning, self-development, and fun. We exist so that the people of our community can experience a myriad of opportunities and growth. We are the bridge builders; we make ways where none exist. Its Vision Statement is foundational. It reads: We will be recognized as the leading library in the Rio Grande Valley (and be) known for our high quality programming, innovative services, and dynamic technology. We will become the heart of the community.

A little more than 96 years has elapsed since the first library in Harlingen was conceived and initiated.

From its very modest beginnings it has evolved into one of the city’s most important institutions, one that consistently reinvents itself in ways to better serve the community.

Little could its founders envision what a major entity it would become. But we Harlingenites are grateful for their initiative and efforts in the betterment of our then frontier community.