A fashion show, origami classes and a Chinese lion dance were all part of the recent grand reopening celebration of the Judson W. Robinson, Jr. Westchase Neighborhood Library, located at 3223 Wilcrest Drive. After being closed since September 2016 for extensive renovations, the library is back and better than ever, offering the latest technology, helpful staff and a state-of-the-art gathering space for community events and exhibits.
The library first opened in 1991 and is named for Judson W. Robinson Jr., who in 1971 became the first African-American elected to the Houston City Council and served twice as mayor pro tempore. “When he died in 1990 after serving nine terms, my mother served as an interim city council member and then I served on city council from 1992 to 1997,” said Judson W. Robinson, III, who was in attendance at the library’s reopening. “To my knowledge, we were the first and only father-mother-son family to serve on Houston City Council. We’re thankful to see history being preserved and respected at the library. This is a big deal for our family and I know my father would be proud of this facility.”
Let there be light
While the footprint and basic structure of the 16,500 square-foot building was preserved, about 70 percent of the building’s exterior was replaced said Ken Black, associate principal and senior project manager with Page Southerland Page, the architecture firm that redesigned the library. “We totally reconfigured how the library was arranged. We wanted to create multiple flex-use space for various gatherings and performances.”
Black said the new library features about 50 percent more exterior glazing than the previous building design, along with a raised roof with clear story glazing o create a friendly, open environment. Automated window shades help keep visitors cool and protect them from glare. “It’s a bright space in which to read and the library offers great views of the nearby trail and of what will become the new park on Wilcrest Drive. Another goal was to invite the public into the facility. Therefore, we used 25 feet-high glazing as the entry portal from Wilcrest Drive.”
Resources and relationships
Upon entering the library, it’s immediately apparent that the space is about more than just books. An art exhibit greets visitors, inviting them to stroll and explore before heading to the information desk. “Not only do we have an expansive collection of books, CDs and DVDs that can be checked out, but we also have an electronic library that provides digital access to thousands of digital and online resources,” said Tim Siegel, the library’s manager. “We offer children’s story times as well as computer classes and online tutoring for both children and adults.”
Siegel said that a new teen study room provides a dedicated after-school zone with homework help available. An adult reading room offers a quiet space to browse books. A new multi-purpose meeting room with audiovisual equipment seats up to 100 people. Express self-checkout machines make checking out books and paying fines speedy transactions. Library members also can borrow tablet computers and laptops while at the library by scanning their library cards. More than two dozen desktop computers are available for children, teens and adults. “We’re eager to cultivate a relationship, so please reach out to us,” Siegel said.
The library is now open on: Mondays from noon to 8 p.m.; Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Judson Robinson, Jr. Westchase Neighborhood Library
3223 Wilcrest Drive