"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 16 May 2002


Help Save Clayton Genealogy Library

One of the top 10-genealogy libraries in the United States, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research (known as the Clayton Library) of the Houston Public Library (HPL) is in danger and will suffer drastic cutbacks in operating hours beginning July 1, 2002 when the library will only be open for evening research for 3-hours, 1-night per week versus the current 4-hours, 3-nights per week.

This will result in the loss of almost 475 evening research hours per year for the public and library patrons. For many researchers, genealogy is a hobby and most work a full-time job (40-hour per week from 8am-5pm).

Clayton Library patrons who use the library during the evening hours will go from 625-hours of available research hours per year (5pm-9pm, 4-hours, 3-nights per week) to a gross of 155-hours per year (5pm-8pm, 3-hours, 1-night per week).

Please keep in mind when you get off from work at 5pm, in Houston rush-hour traffic and road construction, you generally can't make it to Clayton Library before 6pm. So, using the formula of arriving after work at 6pm, patrons will realistically only have 2-hours (6pm-8pm), 1-day per week for a total of 104-hours (2x52) of evening research time per year.

You must also reduce 104-hours even more because most Clayton Library services, e.g., photocopiers, microprinters, restrooms, etc. end 15-mintues before closing thus reducing another 13-hours per year (15x5260) from evening research time. Resulting in the net number of evening hours available to researchers at Clayton Library to 91-hours per year.

Many people say reduction in hours this is a Houston or regional issue. Not so! Clayton Library serves approximately 72,000 individuals every year from all over the United States who travel to this specific library to conduct research. Also, it is critical to remember, Clayton Library is a non-circulating collection and no books or microfilm can be check-out and used at home.

Additionally, Library Administrators and City Officials have failed to consider impact to Clayton Library's nationwide stature and standing by this drastic reduction in research hours.

Not only is the reduction in hours going to affect researchers, it is also going to have an economic impact on the City of Houston.

According to the "Historic Preservation at Work for the Texas Economy," individuals who visit your community for genealogy or historic purposes, spend an additional $29 per day, over and above what they would normally spend just visiting for personal or business reasons, and, in addition, they stay longer than non-heritage travelers.

Reducing Clayton Library hours might solve the library's budget shortfalls, but it is going to cause an even greater impact to Houston's public image and economy.

Why the reduction in library hours at Clayton Library? In Staff Town Hall Meetings conducted today by the HPL, the reason for the cutbacks is because "there is major budget crisis." The 18-page handout given out at the meeting suggests staff members are not to take complaints from patrons regarding cutbacks of library hours or services. Staff members are to direct patrons to contact members of Houston City Council or their neighborhood civic club or association so they can "express positive support for restoring the library's budget so hours and services can be restored."

Why the drastic reduction in Clayton Library hours? The Library Administration claims it is due to the surge of Internet genealogical research and therefore there is no longer a need for hands-on original research. This is a diminutive argument in that good genealogy researchers realize that relying solely on Internet research is not "good research" and you only have access to the vast majority to books and records at a library.

It is important to note that Clayton Genealogy Library will be experiencing the most drastic and severe cutbacks of any branch of the Houston Public Library System. Most local branch libraries will only see an average reduction of 2-hours per week or a loss of 105 hours per year and the Downtown Main Library will only loose 3-hours per week or a total of 156 hours per year whereas Clayton Library will see a reduction of almost 475-hours per year.

What can you do to help? Write, call or e-mail all of the following and voice your "positive support" to stop the reduction of Clayton Library hours and keeping it open three-nights per week.

Website for Clayton Genealogy Library http://www.hpl.lib.tx.us/clayton/

Website for Clayton Library Friends (a tax-exempt, IRS 501(3)(c) non-profit organization that supports the library) http://www.hpl.lib.tx.us/clayton/clf.html

Barbara Gubbin, Executive Director, Houston Public Library System, 500 McKinney, 4th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002, telephone: 832/393-1325 or e-mail < barbara.gubbin@cityofhouston.net >.

City of Houston Elected Officials webpage at http://www.ci.houston.tx.us/citygovt/council/

The mailing address for all the below listed City of Houston Elected Officials: P. O. Box 1562, Houston, Texas 77251:

Lee P. Brown, Mayor of the City of Houston, in Houston telephone 311 or e-mail < mayor@cityofhouston.net >

Annise Parker, City Council At Large Position 1, e-mail < atlarge1@cityofhouston.net >

Gordon Quan, City Council At Large Position 2, e-mail < atlarge2@cityofhouston.net >

Shelly Sekula Rodriguez, M.D., City Council At Large Position 3, e-mail < atlarge3@cityofhouston.net >

Michael Berry, City Council At Large Position 4, e-mail < atlarge4@cityofhouston.net >

Carroll G. Robinson, City Council At Large Position 5, e-mail < atlarge5@cityofhouston.net >

Bruce Tatro, City Council Dist. A, e-mail < bruce.tatro@cityofhouston.net >

Carol Mims Galloway, City Council Dist. B, e-mail < districtb@cityofhouston.net >

Mark Goldberg, City Council Dist. C, e-mail < districtc@cityofhouston.net > ,/P>

Ada Edwards, City Council Dist. D, e-mail < districtd@cityofhouston.net >

Addie Wiseman, City Council Dist. E, e-mail < districte@cityofhouston.net >

Mark Ellis, City Council Dist. F, e-mail < districtf@cityofhouston.net >

Bert Keller, City Council Dist. G, e-mail < districtg@cityofhouston.net >

Gabriel Vasquez, Ph.D., City Council Dist. H, e-mail < districth@cityofhouston.net >

Carol Alvarado, City Council Dist. I, e-mail < districti@cityofhouston.net >

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 16 July 2002 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604