STEAM at the Library

Libraries have long been considered store houses of knowledge and learning institutions. While this is still true, libraries are evolving into dynamic learnings centers, full of expanded services.  STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) classes are one example of expanded services.  But why is this in the library?

According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, workers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) earn more than non-STEM workers. Women only hold 23% of STEM jobs, Non-Hispanic Black Americans and Hispanics hold 6% of STEM jobs. In 2011, the Microsoft STEM Survey reported that, “Only one in five college students felt that their K-12 education prepared them for their college courses in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Libraries have the resources and tools to share knowledge in these academic areas, regardless of gender, race or financial status. Libraries can introduce learners to STEM concepts, the latest technology and new career goals. Our mission at the Denton Public Library is to promote lifelong learning, and teaching STEM classes fulfills this goal. Did you know that the South Branch Library offers a STEAM Ahead program for elementary aged students?  This program features different activities, such as engineering challenges, snap circuitry, and basic computer coding.  The North Branch Library has the Forge, where one can learn how to 3-D print, produce music, or use our software for design and creative use. Emily Fowler Central Library offers science programs for homeschool groups and Lego clubs for children and teens. To support STEM learning, the South Branch is currently hosting two traveling science based exhibits.

At the 2015 White House Science Fair, President Barack Obama stated, “[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…”  STEM is not just about teaching science…it is also about promoting critical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills. Libraries support the needs of children and adults to continuously develop this skillset, afford opportunities for our community to grow and nurture an interest in STEM related fields and to provide equal access of these learning experiences to all.


If you are interested in learning more about our STEM and non-STEM classes, go to

Rebecca Ivey

7 Reasons to Include Music in Library Storytimes

When I was young and attended the “story hour” at my public library, there was a nice older lady who sat on a chair in front of a circle of children and read books. I enjoyed the stories, and I eventually became a children’s librarian myself. While the exposure to books was great, I was honestly more interested in sneaking away to look at the Guinness Book of World Records. What young boy wouldn’t be fascinated by the world’s heaviest twins on motorcycles?

Storytime programs at the Denton Public Library include songs and rhymes for a variety of reasons, one of which is to capture the imagination of children so that they’ll return to the library again and again. I think if I’d been more excited about the programs, I would have been a more avid library user as a child. The more that children use the library, the more chances for sneaking away and exploring new books (and new world records). Here are my personal top seven reasons for including music in my preschool storytime programs.


Tools of the Trade


  1. Singing is a recognized pre-reading practice. Even if you don’t play any musical instruments, singing with children has many well documented benefits. Think of it as language at play. Rhyming is a mainstay of children’s music, and working with rhyme is one way to help children with something researchers call phonological awareness. This is the ability to understand (though not necessarily on a conscious level) that words are made up of different sound units that can be manipulated to change meaning. There really is some science behind this library science stuff.
  2. It’s fun. Think of the last meeting you had at work. How much fun did you have? Are you looking forward to the next meeting with unbridled anticipation? Probably not. Kids are the same way. I didn’t attend many of those story hours as a child because I wasn’t having fun. There’s nothing wrong with just reading stories to kids, but here’s a little secret: if the kids have fun, they’ll want to come back. Speaking as a parent, I know that I want to see my kids engaged and having fun, especially in activities that have educational value. So yeah, fun matters.
  3. I get to play lots of musical instruments. This is the selfish confession of a storytime troubadour. I play guitar, ukulele, auto harp, recorder, bells, egg shakers, and whatever else I can get away with. Not only do I get to play all these cool instruments in the library, I also take the show on the road when I visit local schools. Let’s see, if I get paid to play music so much, am I a professional musician? I’m leaning toward “yes.”
  4. I let children play the instruments I play. After my storytimes, I invite the kids up to strum on my guitar, ukulele, autoharp, or whatever musical instrument I have out that day. Lots of different ages get first-hand experience exploring music, including babies in my Mother Goose Time, toddlers in my Toddler Time, a mix of the two in my Baby and Toddler Time, and bigger kids in my Storytime. The babies are the best; their faces show unfettered awe when their little hands make a sound on something like the ukulele (which is what I routinely play for them). Fun wins again.
  5. I get to play with other musicians from time to time. Talk about fun! I invite other musicians to play in special performances that I’ve dubbed “Music Mania Storytime.” In these marvelous musical meetings, everything is a song, and we even sing the books. The best part is all the instrumentation. I’ve had folks play upright bass, viola, bongos, even the Chapman stick. It’s a guilty pleasure that I don’t feel guilty about.
  6. Music is a good gateway to the books I read in storytime. I read two or three books at every storytime, and that’s the real goal: getting children motivated to read. I think it’s amazing that part of my job is to introduce kids to Pete the Cat. Who doesn’t love Pete the Cat? Seriously.
  7. Parents and caregivers can share these books and songs at home. Home is where learning takes root. I give out song sheets with the words to the songs we sing in storytime, and I encourage participants to keep it going at home. Some of my programs repeat the same songs every week, with a “song of the week” thrown in for variety’s sake. This allows kids to learn the songs well, in the hopes that the words and tunes will stick with them. Maybe for life. Having a lifelong impact on the language development of kids is profound and humbling to me, and sharing fun and music along the way is a great side effect.

Kerol Harrod

KDNT’s “Howdy, Neighbor!” Show

A few months ago Sandy Shepard came into the library with some old wire recordings from KDNT radio, the first radio station “established” in Denton (Mike Shannon, History of KDNT Radio). Included are two jingles, an unknown music program, the “Howdy, Neighbor” program, coverage of the Ponder Rodeo, a speech given by Lady Bird Johnson atTWU, news coverage just after the Kennedy assassination, and a broadcast from 1968. There is more, but in the meantime, here’s a little bit of history from the Denton radio vault.

Sandy’s father, Harwell V. Shepard, was the owner of KDNT Radio Station and he started the business in 1938. New owners took over in 1972 and the station changed hands several times until 1993 when it was sold and turned into a Tejano music station and the name changed to KICI. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail behind KDNT’s history because Mike Shannon already did that. You can visit The History of KDNT Radio to read more about it; there are also many photographs and documents throughout. The library partnered with Mr. Shannon in 2011 to do a History of KDNT Radio. Since then, it has held an interest for me and I am thrilled to have more to add to our Special Collections Department.

According to Sandy, the Howdy Neighbor show began in late 1950s.  A reporter (in this snippet it’s Buford Harrell) would wait at the Dixie Trailways Bus Station every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:45 p.m. to interview people. Included in this clipped portion of the recording: the Howdy, Neighbor! introduction, a commercial for Jimmie’s Restaurant at 619 S. Locust, and an interview with Miss Sharon K. Guinn, a six-year-old from Denton on her way to visit her aunt.

As for the origin of the title of the show  – I don’t know whose idea it was first – but there is an article in the Denton Record-Chronicle on November 8, 1950,  entitled: ‘Howdy Neighbor’ Denton Will Greet City’s Newcomers. The membership committee of the chamber held a big “Newcomers Party” to greet new “Dentonites” and all of the 200 newcomers’ names were listed in the article.

Jimmie’s Restaurant which also went by Jimmie’s Cafe in other years, was located on the north side of the square at 619 S. Locust Street. The business changed hands many times, but I believe the original owner was Jimmie Morris; their home was listed at 619 1/2 S. Locust. The voice of Gene Fletcher can be heard doing the advertisement and it’s his wonderful accent that gives flavor to the “Think how hot the kitchen is for the Little Woman these summer days.”

Buford Oceola Harrell worked for KDNT as a newscaster and in sales from 1950-1984. Sandy told me that he and his family lived on Fry Street, so I checked our city directories, and sure enough, the Harrell family lived at 305 Fry Street. Sandy said Buford drove the mobile news unit, but “he almost lost the car because he never opened up the hood and checked the oil.”

buford harrell

Buford Oceola Harrell, 1972, courtesy of Sandy Shepard.








I think that I found Sharon Guinn in the 1959 Denton High School yearbook, using our Ancestry database. I tried different variations of the name and came up with this photo. If you look at the photo on the bottom, she is the eighth one from the left.

Sharon Guinn001

Denton High School- Hi-Lite Club – 1959

You can hear her interview below:


P.S. -If someone can tell me how to spell her aunt’s name, I’d appreciate it.

And let me know if I got anything wrong, or if you have something to add to this post.


-Leslie Couture, Special Collections


In The Weeds 4.06.16: Fist Fights, Snakebites and Polygamy

We have a collection of 19th and early 20th Century newspaper articles and gleanings about Denton people and events from in and outside the county. They make for fun reading and an opportunity to re-evaluate how we think people lived and behaved in an era we tend to think was so different. There is quite a bit about the sadder side of life such as crimes, deaths, and health issues (“If it bleeds, it leads” is the news axiom). We won’t go into those but, rather, focus on some humor and more lighthearted events. And it was fun to come up with tags for this blog post…

From the Denton County News, Sept. 29, 1898, p.8, c.3:

“BITTEN BY A COPPERHEAD. W. H. Durham, who is employed in Long, Williams & Co’s grocery store, was bitten on a finger last week by a copperhead last Thursday night while engaged in picking up some articles in a dark corner of the store. He immediately drank a quart of whiskey, but the bite was so poisonous that the whole arm swelled considerably. At last accounts, Mr. Durham was improving and is now considered out of danger.” –We think the cure might be worse than than the cause.

From the Legal Tender, Dec.2, 1897, p.1:

“The Green Valley School is progressing fine, and the Algebra class say they can work any thing by the X.Y.Z.”

From the Denton County News, Oct 29th, 1896, p.5, c.1:

“PONDER ITEMS. Ponder, Oct 25. There was quite an interesting wolf chase experienced in Denton creek bottom last Saturday, one being killed by Mr. M. W. Hedrick; also a wild goose and three squirrels.” –A real “wild goose chase”.

From Denton County News, March 2, 1899, p.4,c.3:

“AGAIN IN TROUBLE. Rev. Logan, who conducted a series of services at the Advent Church in this city a year or so ago and who ran away with a young lady of this city is in trouble again, having been arrested in Fort Worth last week charged with having too many wives.”

From the Dallas Weekly Herald, June 6, 1874, p.1:

The editor of the Denton Review takes a whole column of space to tell his readers that he got thrown from a horse and didn’t get killed.” – Ouch! That’s going to sting.

From the Denton County News, Sept. 24, 1896, p.8, c.4:

“Mr. M.D. Saunders, of Fort Worth, has located in Denton and opened a bicycle store in the brick building in the rear of the Masonic building.” –Bicycles. Denton loved them then and loves them now.

From the Denton County News, Sept. 21, 1893, p.3, c.2:

” W.R. Staples and Arthur Smith, living near Stony, had a rough and tumble fight on the farmer’s place Monday which resulted in a number of bruises for each. Mr. Staples came to town and had a physician extract two of his fingers from his own wrist which he had grafted there by rapping Smith too rudely on the mug.” – That must’ve been some punch. How does one graft one’s own fingers to the same wrist?!

From the Denton County News, Jan 31, 1895, p.2,c.2:

“At the residence of Mrs. Stark of Roanoke, can be found a little black bird that can talk as plain as any body in the county.”

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Library.


S is for Squirrel

S is for Squirrel

The other day on my lunch break I took a stroll around the North Branch Library where I work. It was a pleasant sunny day and I was enjoying the Xeriscaping and minimalist architecture of the building.

All of a sudden, I hear rustling within one of the trees on the path. I look up curious. There before me slightly camouflaged was a cute little squirrel stirring about. It paused to examine me for a moment and then gave what seemed like a playful smile.  I smiled back, then it ran down the tree and scurried off into the bushes. I thought I heard laughing. Perhaps, echoes of the Disney movie I just watched the other night were embellishing this squirrel encounter. Perhaps, cute animal memes trending on social media are the reason why I thought I saw the cuddly little squirt wearing sunglasses. Despite anthropomorphizing the squirrel it was cool for sure!

I began contemplating squirrels.

I made notes in my journal asking philosophical questions, meditating upon the existential being of the mysterious squirrel.

This was not the first time I had an encounter with one. I have had several and I would assume that many reading have as well, for they are our ever present neighbors. Squirrels are so ubiquitous that we may even take for granted that we share lawns and the streets with these plucky rodent mammals? Anyone who has had roofing, electrical issues or near road collisions due to these little creatures may differ.

Nonetheless, what would life be like without our little friends, delighting some and annoying others? A depressing hypothetical IMO.

Another astonishing squirrel sighting I had was in 2006, on the campus of The University of North Texas. I was unaware of the albino squirrel on campus and its legendary status with UNT lore. I was walking to an early morning class, head in my notes preparing for an exam when suddenly there was the albino squirrel! I was perplexed and bemused. I watched it stand on its back legs, look around and then dash off! Like I previously mentioned, I was unaware of the albino squirrel on campus. Also, I had never seen one in general before. I was filled with wonder and slight horror as I made it to class telling one of my classmates about the strange experience. They informed me of its importance on campus, serving as an unofficial mascot, dispelling my notion that it may be a real life X-File. I felt lucky seeing it and took it as a chance sign of good fortune. I aced my test!

Spoiler Alert and Trigger Warning (squirrel fatality)

Not too long after that day I read in the NT Daily ( that our albino squirrel had been killed by a hawk!  After reading the article I sighed and thought I heard The Circle of Life from The Lion King playing in the distance! Thanks Disney!

What is a squirrel?

Think about it!

Here at the library we have books for all ages that address such naturalist ponderings. From children’s books to adult books that address the scientific examination of the Sciuridae ( to works of literature, film and graphic art that muse upon our little friends!

Or go online using our WIFI or public access computers and stream videos and pics of squirrels wearing sunglasses and being goofy, creepy and adorable.

Andrew Hilburn-


Turn on. Log in. Make zombies.

BigLyndaMany Denton Public Library cardholders have been taking advantage of the access their library card provides. For those unfamiliar with, it is a comprehensive collection of online training videos and a great resource for those who want to develop technology and business skills such as computer programming, IT management, graphic design, public speaking, marketing and, of course, using Photoshop to transform friends and family into zombies.

In the recently added course, Photoshop: Turn Yourself Into a Zombie, Rayce Bird, Season 2 winner of Face Off,  walks viewers through the process of turning ordinary photos into hideously frightening zombies using Adobe Photoshop.

BP Zombie

This is just one of many courses for those more interested in geeky creative pursuits than impressing  employers with their knowledge of Microsoft Access. Here are a few more.

Monster Drawing Workshop

BP Monster Drawing Workshop

Getting Started with Stop Motion Animation

BP Stop Motion

Time-Lapse Photography Workshop

BP Time Lapse Photography

Creative Inspirations: Doyald Young, Logotype Designer

BP Logotype

You can check out these courses (and many more) by visiting the library’s portal. A valid Denton Public Library card and PIN is required to access.

Stacy – South Branch Library

Blooming at the Library

It certainly feels like spring here in North Texas.  With spring comes colorful blooms everywhere.  We even have some beautiful floral specimens here in the library.  All three branches of the Denton Public Library are hosting the Texas Native Plant Exhibition this March.  The exhibits include colorful artworks depicting native Texas plants.

All of the art was created by 4th grade students from 13 local elementary schools.  The exhibition is sponsored by the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Elm Fork Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists, and the Texas Woman’s University College of Arts and Sciences.

We hope you’ll be inspired by the exhibition to learn more about Texas wildflowers, get motivated to work on your spring garden, enjoy a stroll through one of our beautiful city parks, or just take a moment to stop and smell the roses…or black eyed Susan, or iris, or golden-eye, or Indian paint brush…

Jennifer Bekker
North Branch Library
Texas Native Plants 1