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Exploring New Worlds Right Here

Fantastic Adventures Come to Life as Families and Community Come Together at the Library

Article by Brandi Jameson

Photography by Daniel Gertson

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

To lovers of the written word, a library is filled with pages of wonder for imaginations seeking literary escape. It’s a place where books line the shelves and a quiet atmosphere beckons. But at the Patrick Heath Public Library, this is only the first chapter of the whole story.

Located in the heart of downtown, the library takes pride in its central place in the community. From its humble beginnings 72 years ago to today’s impressive list of intentional engagements, the growth continues to flourish. “Our strategic plan has three primary goals—explore, enrich, and engage,” says Assistant Library Director Natalie Morgan.

“Explore” is designed to nurture the love of reading in all ages. “Enrich” promotes adult-centered learning through practical tools like technology assistance, Medicare navigation, and tax help. “Engage,” Morgan says, is where people come together. “This is a very good place for spirited discussion, as well as just good camaraderie.”

With summer in full swing, the calendar provides many opportunities in the Summer Learning Program. This year’s theme is “Begin Your Adventure @ the Library.” Events offer a myriad of activities, such as petting zoos and cooking classes for kids, teen movies, pirate-themed escape rooms, adult book clubs, and true-crime podcast craft sessions. Every day has an itinerary designed with the entire community in mind.

The annual Liars' Contest is one of this month’s most highly anticipated events. This competition between storytellers judges their ability to craft tall tales. Everyone in the family can listen in as grown-ups regale them with stories of excitement and adventure.

If your summer is already packed, don't worry. The library boasts a full calendar year-round. Regular activities continue throughout the school year, including adult book clubs, art classes, and the monthly Live at the Library concert series held at the outdoor amphitheater. “We’ve really become the hub of the community,” Youth Services Librarian Constance Keremes says proudly.

Boerne’s youngest residents can find multiple story times with the Book Babies program and the newly developed Rhyme and Shine. The Sensory Studio also offers a more hands-on approach, which is part of a program Keremes says is critical to the growth of young minds. “We’ve learned that by engaging our babies in stories and picture books, they are more likely to grow into a love of reading.”

Keremes and Youth Library Assistant Cassidy Kennell are passionate about providing a safe space for Boerne kids to learn and explore. They’ve recently partnered with Boerne ISD special needs teachers to provide a class for sensory-sensitive children. “We keep the class short, as we don’t want to overwhelm the children,” Keremes explains. “There’s an art station, and then we let the kids borrow blankets and a plush pal to snuggle with during story time.”

With the influx of young families into the community, both Keremes and Morgan understand the importance of providing services to not only the children but also the parents. The Family Place is a grant-funded program with exactly that intention. It’s a five-week course designed to teach parents how to play and learn with their children and provide one-on-one access to information from professionals like nutritionists and speech therapists.

Teens can also find a dedicated niche at The Hub. After-school programs coordinated by YA Services/Outreach Coordinator Leah Mayo take place in this space, lined with shelves filled with Young Adult books and a gaming area. One of the more popular teen activities is “Touch Grass Tuesday,” an outdoor cook-out held on the library’s back lawn every month. Mayo’s dad lends his grilling skills, serving hamburgers and hot dogs to over sixty kids. “All these teens are coming here to the library to hang out, never realizing that by doing so, they’re saying this is the cool place to be,” jokes Morgan. “That’s what’s so great about it. It’s our best-kept secret.”

Thanks to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, the library's future is looking even brighter. Redesign work begins in the lobby this summer as it transforms into an internet café. Plans include new furnishings, and the space will eventually host a coffee vendor. High-top seating will be available along the windows for a back lawn view to those using the work area. The funding will also help create a Public Memory Lab to digitize and archive Boerne’s history.

Summer can be an exciting and energetic season, so Morgan wants to ensure people have appropriate expectations of the library’s vibe. “We are not a ‘shushy’ library,” she laughs. “Sometimes people have to shush [the staff] because even we can get boisterous. We’re very much a happy, joyful crowd here.” | 830-249-3053 | 451 N. Main St., Bldg. 100

“We are not a ‘shushy’ library… We’re very much a happy, joyful crowd here.”