For many patrons of Mercer Botanic Gardens, a visit to the park isn’t complete without a stop at the Baldwin Boettcher Library.
When the library closed last year due to severe flood damage, Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Jim Nutter, interim director at Mercer Botanic Gardens, and Edward Melton, director of the Harris County Public Library system, started working together to bring books back to the garden. They called it “Operation Dreamers and Schemers.”
“We looked at innovative ways to keep a library in the area without risking another major loss to our books and infrastructure,” said Cagle. “Although we still have work to do, I believe the partnership with Mercer provides a great start.”
In June, their hard work finally paid off as Mercer and the library system unveiled the Little Blue Library at Mercer Botanic Gardens.
“Baldwin Boettcher has always been an important part of Mercer Botanic Gardens,” said Nutter. “Mercer was never just a park, and Baldwin Boettcher was never just a library. They were always better together.”
Although the library operates out of a room a fraction of the size of Baldwin Boettcher, patrons can still browse popular books, participate in programs, and pick up and drop off requested books.
Victoria Knauff, the former youth services librarian at Baldwin Boettcher, now manages the Little Blue Library at Mercer and said the library’s size hasn’t deterred staff from offering a full line-up of summer programming.
“When you start something new like this, it’s always a scary experience, but everyone has been so supportive,” she said. “The people I’ve met are just excited that we’re able to continue serving the community.”
Although shelf space is limited, Knauff said patrons should have plenty of books to choose from. New books are brought in monthly and books that are rarely checked out are traded for more popular books. Patrons can also request books online and pick them up at Mercer.
Although Knauff is proud of all the work the librarians have done to make the Little Blue Library a reality at Mercer, she said patrons can look forward to the library’s expansion in the future.
“We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we do know that we will continue our partnership with Mercer,” said Knauff.
“We’re just glad to be a part of the community again. We’ve had so much support and people have been really grateful that we’re back.”