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HIDDEN GEM: Houston neighborhood libraries

The Houston Public Library system has dozens of little libraries tucked in neighborhoods all over the city.

HOUSTON — Complete with cozy chairs, friendly smiles and, of course, loads of books, Houston's library system has dozens of these little libraries tucked in neighborhoods all over the city.

"Neighborhood libraries serve as an anchor to communities," said Roberto Zapata, the assistant director of customer experience for the Houston Public Library system. "We like to think of our neighborhood libraries as community living rooms." 

These are not your grandmother’s libraries. Yes, you can still check out books, DVDs and even audiobooks. But your library card also opens up access to digital resources.

"After we close, you can still go to our website to check out e-books, check out e-audio books. You can stream movies. You can stream music," Zapata said. "All for free."

You don't need a library card to visit, though. Anyone can walk through the doors of, say, the newly renovated Flores Neighborhood Library

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"We have beautiful seating spaces and of course a beautiful children’s area for all of the programs and storytimes we offer for families," Zapata said. 

The McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood Library has a new look inside too.

"The first thing you’ll notice is the vibrant colors," points out Zapata.

You’ll also see those bright colors at the Young Neighborhood Library.

"It’s a recent opening," Zapata said. "The technology in there that is available to our customers is amazing."

You can get a history lesson – not just on the shelves – but from some of the buildings.

"The Heights Neighborhood Library is a historical building, so when you walk through the doors, pretty much nothing has changed," Zapata said. "The original woodwork. The original windows even. You kind of go back in time when you visit that location."

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Same thing when you see the Freed-Montrose building.

"(It) was originally a church. It was repurposed as a library," Zapata said. "As you walk through the library, you’ll notice the stained glass windows. You’ll notice some other beautiful features. That’s because it served as a church at one point."

These are just a few of the many gems hidden all over Houston.

"We wanted to make sure everyone had a place that they could enjoy," Zapata said. "We welcome everyone back to their library."

To learn more about the neighborhood libraries in Houston, click here.

Brandi Smith on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Do you have a hidden gem we should check out? Let us know by emailing Brandi Smith at bsmith@khou.com!

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