Join the movement! #GivingTuesdayHPL

At the Friends of the Houston Public Library we are reminded everyday that people give: They give time, talent, books and financial support.

At the Houston Public Library we are reminded everyday of what the staff gives: They give knowledge, resources and guidance.

We believe that this exchange of goodness and giving is how we advance as a community.

No person alone has all the knowledge. No person alone has all the resources. Which is why it takes communities made up of these remarkable individuals who take the time to give, and communities made up of libraries, that provide creative havens of knowledge, learning and ever-expanding resources, materials and programs.

Give because you can’t imagine a world without libraries.

Give because you know the impact Houston Public Library programs have on our city.

Give because the Friends’ book sales make it possible for the community to fund raise and buy affordable books for homes and classrooms.

Give because your life has been changed by literature.

Give because you believe in giving.

So this year on #GivingTuesday, the national day dedicated to giving, we are starting a movement through #GivingTuesdayHPL and coming together to celebrate and support our Houston Public Library.

Take a Number

We encourage you to think about all of the services and programs the library offers, and donate at a level that is meaningful to you.

$5 is the price of a movie rental online - There are thousands of movies, CDs and Audiobooks available for checkout at the library.

$15 is the price of a ticketed family event in Houston - There are free programs and major HPL events all year long.

$27 is the price of a brand new hardcover book - There are millions of free books to choose from and check out from 43 branches!

$43 - The Houston Public Library has 43 branch locations, providing resources, knowledgeable staff and life-changing programs.

$99 -The Friends is a 99% powered volunteer program committed to raising funds and awareness for the Houston Public Library. We're a program for the community by the community.

Help us reach our two #GivingTuesdayHPL goals!

GOAL ONE: Reach 4,000 likes on Facebook! 

Building our capacity to give back and make HPL the best library in the nation includes having more people involved! 

  • Share our  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages with your friends, networks, colleagues, famous pets, Houston celebrities and ask them to like and follow us!

GOAL TWO: Receive 1,000 individual donations.

  • Whether it’s $5, $50, or $5,000, your giving makes a difference no matter the amount!

  • Double the Donation by researching your company at the bottom of our donate page!

Join the Movement


Download and print our #unselfie card and share it on your social channels. Start a conversation about why you give back and why you are passionate about the Houston Public Library, Friends or Foundation!

Share your story today!



Share this blog or our #GivingTuesdayHPL Headquarters page on your social channels and email your friends about it! 

Check our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for new stories and posts throughout the month of November and share, like, favorite or retweet the posts that resonate with you!



Donate Online

Pledge to donate or donate now through November 29. Every dollar counts and creates meaningful change!

Join Your Workplace Campaign

Make a donation through your workplace campaign and designate your gift to Friends of HPL or HPL Foundation. If neither one is listed, you may write in your designation. HPL Foundation is a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and your campaign coordinator will route your donation to us. The Friends of HPL is listed on the Combined Municipal Campaign; choose #2227 as your charity of choice! Find out more at

Donate Books

New or gently used books help the Friends of HPL fund raise through its online and community book sales. Host a book drive on our behalf or donate your treasures to us. We will get them into new hands and turn them into vital library programs.

Make a donation appointment!

Shop to Support

Amazon gives a portion of your purchase to the HPL Foundation if you shop through and choose the Houston Public Library Foundation as your charity of choice. It's exactly like Amazon, but better!

Shop from hundreds of online retailers at iGive at and choose HPL Foundation.

Go to and sign in to your account. Once you're in, scroll down to Community Rewards. Select organization #81104. Now, with every grocery shop, you're also raising funds!


The Friends of HPL is a 99% volunteer-powered organization. We need volunteers all year long to support us at events, processing books at the Friends' warehouse and more. See our current opportunities at and check back often to see what's new!

Human Capital Raises Critical Funds for FHPL!

Thank you to Human Capital for raising critical funds and awareness for the Friends of HPL! 

Human Capital is an executive search firm focused on the energy and natural resources supply chain. Each year they host a community fundraiser that benefits a worthy cause. 

This year, their Charity Clay event raised $5,467 for the Friends of HPL!
They had over 100 attendees and over 40 companies at the event. 

We would also like to thank the sponsoring companies at the event:


People can have an impact in our community in many ways. Whether it is by getting involved with local organizations through volunteerism, advocacy, hosting or participating in fundraisers and donating. It is because of innovative minds and companies who are cause-centered, like Human Capital, that we are able to meet our mission to support the Houston Public Library.

Thank you to all of those involved in the success of this event and for making a difference in our community!

10 Reasons You Can't Miss Kids' Book Fest

How do we love thee? Let us count the ways in which we work all year round to make sure our book sales are the most enjoyable and impact-driven community fundraisers ever! SPOILER ALERT: You get to enjoy The Health Museum FOR FREE!

1. $1, $2 and $3 DOLLAR BOOKS.

If you've been to a book sale, you know these books have been well taken care of. That's because our incredible Houston librarians do everything they can to give them a longer shelf life. That means a plastic book jacket on an Easy Reader gives little enthusiastic hands plenty of room to love and use them over and over. Besides, most of these books only cost you at most $3! Sticker price $18.99? Not in our house. 

Conclusion: These books were custom-fitted and custom-priced for your hands. It's about time you two met.

2. Funds raised at our book sales benefit the Houston Public Library's Programs. 

Which means you, your family, your neighbor, and your favorite coffee barista's kids can enjoy the incredible cultural programming and resources that every library branch offers all year round. Fun Fact: 100% of library programming is funded through philanthropy like our book sale fundraisers.

3. Free admission to Book Fest AND to The Health Museum

Our friends at The Health Museum love Houston as much as we do. They want resources, education, information and good ol' fun to be had by everyone one of HOU, so they said, "Come on in! The exhibits are fine and the price is right!" The DeBakey Cell Lab is the only specialty exhibit that requires an admission fee — but trust us, it's the perfect cell-fie opportunity! 


4. There's a Storybook Costume Contest. And the prize means you get to buy more books.

Dress up as your favorite storybook story, rhyme, character, plot-line, book theme, etc.! As long as you took a look, and it was in a book, you're good to go! All ages welcome.

There will be four categories and the winner from each will receive a Friends of HPL $50 Gift Card! Winners will be chosen by the Friends of HPL Board and will be announced on September 23rd, 2016.

The Four Storybook Costume Categories are:

  1. Handily Handmade 
  2. Cleverly Creative 
  3. Terrific Team Theme
  4. Magnificently Mythical 

How to Enter: (1) Come to Kids' Book Fest on September 10 and/or September 11, (2) Take a photo at our Storybook Costume Contest table and (3) Fill out an entry form. All ages, shoppers, volunteers, museum staff and book lovers welcome! 

Need some ideas? Check out Pinterest or Buzzfeed.

5. Tons of activities.

We love libraries and we love HOU so much that we want our book sales to be a celebration of our city and our community. And what's a celebration without great music, food, activities and our favorite Houston friends? There will be writing activities, hat-making, storytelling, balloon art, face painting and more! Check out what's happening on Saturday and Sunday.

6. Book people are the best people.

Studies have shown that people who love books are the best kind of people. These studies may have been library studies, or our home office study, but they are studies nonetheless. Besides, if there was research on this, we all know that it would prove our theory that book people are indeed the best people.

7. Eat a tamale improve literacy rates.

Last year, our awesome friends at Texas Tamale Company hosted their inaugural book drive, Literacy in the Bag, to help improve literacy rates in Houston. They were able to make significant book donations to community organizations, including the Friends of HPL. We gratefully received over 5,000 donated books last winter that helped us increase our impact in the community. This year they'll be hosting Literacy in the Bag again, but not before feeding you delicious tamales and literacy facts at Book Fest on Saturday. 

8. Read more = You live longer. And prosper, of course.

A recent study featured in the New York Times has shown that reading books is tied to a longer lifespan. Spock approves of your fountain-of-youth-unlocking reading habits.

Conclusion: Read on and stock up my friends.

9. Play Minecraft on the magic red HPL Mobile Express bus. 

Ms. Frizzle would be proud. The Mobile Express is a game-changer in our community, offering resources and technology to high-need areas that have limited access to libraries. Your book sale shopping dollars helped us purchase TWO Mobile Expresses that have provided countless resources to our community. Hop on, play Minecraft and sharpen your mind by learning more about this innovation on wheels.

10. It's an event that's by HOU for HOU. 

The Friends of HPL is over 99% volunteer powered. That means these book sales are a product of hard work, pumped by a heart filled with limitless library love so that everyone in Houston can enjoy the magic of books and the life-changing resources that our Houston Public Library offers.

Did we miss a reason? Comment below or share and tell your friends why they shouldn't miss Kids' Book Fest!

FHPL Scholarship Recipient Goes to Hamburg

Author: Carrie Toombs

Carrie outside of Kronberg Castle in Helsingor Denmark

Carrie outside of Kronberg Castle in Helsingor Denmark

It has been a year since I was lucky enough to receive the generous support of the Friends of HPL so that I can pursue my Master’s degree in Information Science at the University of North Texas. And what a year it’s been!

I took just one class in the Fall 2015 semester—the much dreaded INFO 5200 (Information Organization). The class, which revolves around the singular task of creating and organizing a collection of one’s own choosing, culminated in a 36 page paper detailing everything from the database I created to house the collection’s records, to the record structure and specifications, to the controlled vocabulary and thesaurus I created, and more. The project was just as involved as everyone I spoke with had suggested, and I’m glad I made the choice to focus on only that class.

Having tackled that project, I felt confident in taking on two classes in the Spring 2016 semester: Storytelling, and Data Analysis and Knowledge Discovery. Though they covered very different subject matter, I came away with equally valuable skills and knowledge from each class. In Storytelling, I learned about the structure of narrative, strategies for effective knowledge transfer through storytelling, as well as basic public performance skills. In Data Analysis and Knowledge Discovery, I learned about data mining techniques and text mining techniques. For my midterm, I had the opportunity to analyze real statistics from the Teen room at Central. This analysis has helped us select optimal times and topics for the programming we provide here.

Reference Desk with Customer Facing and Staff Facing Monitor from the State Library in Hamburg

Reference Desk with Customer Facing and Staff Facing Monitor from the State Library in Hamburg

Late in the Fall semester, I received an email advertising an upcoming study abroad program, for credit towards two classes: Managing Library Automation Projects and Services to Special Clienteles. The program was a hands-on learning experience during the first 8-week summer semester, with field work to take place in Hamburg, Germany the first three weeks. Intrigued, I sent off a letter of interest and was notified that I had been accepted into the program! I jumped into the process of getting approval for time off. My coworkers were so supportive and helpful in offering to cover my projects, nights and weekends so that I could pursue this learning experience; my teammates at HPL are truly some of the most exceptional, hard-working, kind and gracious people I’ve ever worked with.  

Lockers from the State Library in Hamburg

Lockers from the State Library in Hamburg

Carrie (seen right) and her classmates enjoying Copenhagen street food in Denmark

Carrie (seen right) and her classmates enjoying Copenhagen street food in Denmark

In May, I boarded my flight to Hamburg. We worked with the International School of Hamburg to improve existing processes and provide recommendations for optimizing library services. It was so interesting working in a global library setting and adjusting my perspective on libraries. I also learned a lot about the workings of school libraries, which will come in useful as HPL moves towards an increasingly collaborative relationship with HISD and other area school districts. I am proud that I was able to represent HPL and impart some of the best practices I have learned here. After I explained the research-based Very Ready Reader storytime curriculum that we are implementing at HPL, the Junior School Librarian at the International School of Hamburg Library was excited to purchase and implement the program. Over the course of the program, I was able to see so many European landmarks throughout Germany and Denmark, and even visit a family member I hadn’t seen in over five years!

All thanks to the tremendous support of the Friends.

Friends of HPL provides annual scholarships to HPL staff pursuing a Master's in Library Science. We believe that supporting the higher education of these individuals helps bring critical knowledge and renewed passion to our HPL branches. 

We thank all of our scholarship recipients for being a beacon of insight and light in our Houston libraries and we thank all of our volunteers for raising the funds that make these scholarships possible. 

What Goes Into a Book Sale?

Each FHPL book sale--from the days of the annual three-day sale at the George R. Brown Convention Center, to the quarterly two-day sales of today (like our latest and greatest at The Health Museum!)--requires the same ingredients to make an impact in our community. We like to call them our Impact Ingredients.

Ingredient No. 1: Preparation & Planning

For 3 - 4 months before a book sale, volunteers are at the Friends Book Warehouse processing 14,000 books a week. They are scanning, sorting and boxing up books, picking the perfect category, and making sure each book is in good condition and ready to be read.

30 book carts, 15 pallets of books and AVs, and book sale equipment ready to be picked up the day before the sale.

30 book carts, 15 pallets of books and AVs, and book sale equipment ready to be picked up the day before the sale.

Meanwhile, the Friends Program Manager is scouting for venues, planning the logistics to move 30 tons of books on pallets, book carts, and signage to the location, recruiting volunteers, and marketing like the wind! 

Ingredient No. 2: Volunteers

Volunteers, Friends Board Members and Health Museum staff working together to bring you the best book buying experience!

Volunteers, Friends Board Members and Health Museum staff working together to bring you the best book buying experience!

Volunteers are the engine that move the Friends from point A to point Z, whether setting up the night before the book sale, helping customers during the sale, or breaking down after the sale volunteers make it happen!

Total Volunteer Hours for the Spring Book Sale: 207 hours
Total Hours to Setup: 45 Hours
Total Hours to Breakdown: 22 Hours

Ingredient No. 3: Our Customers & Members

We know, without a doubt, that our customers and members are one-of-a-kind! For one thing, our customers come prepared. Lugging around the deepest of bags, the most mobile of dollies and wheeling in traveling suitcases to pack the bargain books in — our customers come ready to shop!

Total Visitors at the Spring Sale: 1,600
Total Books Sold: 12,922
Total AVs Sold: 796
Total Transactions: 963

Ingredient No. 4: Keeping our mission in mind

At the end of the day, as much as we focus on books and libraries, it's always about people.

As a local nonprofit, we know the value of a connected community. The one thing that connects us all is communication, and the one thing that moves us forward are resources. Our Houston libraries provide us both: communication in the form of books, from the leaders of yesterday to the doers of today, and resources to succeed as individuals and as a community.

So at the end of each book sale, remember that the proceeds go back into that circle of community. Whether you're a customer or a volunteer, your time and treasure goes further when you shop with the Friends.

To sum it all up: 

Book sales take a lot of heart work. From our passion-filled enthusiastic volunteers who love our community, to our committed and energized customer and membership base who love and believe in the power of books, to our supportive collaborators at The Health Museum, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Houston Public Library who are moving Houston forward. Friends book sales are a true community effort for the community, by the community.  

Season's Givings: Reaching New Heights

The Families Empowered team lined up their book-filled cars in front of the Book Warehouse

The Families Empowered team lined up their book-filled cars in front of the Book Warehouse

This past Fall, we connected with more organizations and processed more books than ever before. Because of these wonderful happenings coinciding together, we were able to donate thousands of books to the following organizations:

  • Families Empowered: 2,500 Books
  • Kids' Meals, Inc: 250 Books
  • Harbor Hospice: 500 Books
  • Put it in a Book Foundation: 1,500 Books
  • Faith Center: 250 Books
  • Prince of Peace Catholic Community: 600 Books
  • Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center: 900 Books


The most inspiring part was getting to know these organizations' missions and all of the important work they do. Get to know them and spread the word!

If you're an organization in need of books please click here and we'll be in touch!

Thank you to Families Empowered for providing the photo of their November 2015 School Connection Fair!