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Joint Base San Antonio libraries more than shelves of books

By Mary Nell Sanchez | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | May 2, 2019


The library of decades ago has evolved into a special place where service members, veterans and families can do more than check out a book.

Joint Base San Antonio libraries offer free events that provide educational hands-on experiences to those with base access.

The JBSA-Lackland library features special theme events including Legos; Craft: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math [STEM] on Thursday nights.

The JBSA-Fort Sam Houston library offers a weekly Tuesday Construction Chaos Club with Lego blocks from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

There is also children’s story time Tuesdays at 10 a.m. at JBSA-Lackland, Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at JBSA-Randolph, and Thursdays at 10 a.m. at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.

In addition, JBSA libraries will sometimes host conduct special events, like the Sala Showdown that was May 1-3 or Escape Room: Nuclear Countdown that was March 20-22, both of which were held at JBSA-Lackland.

“There is so much out there that’s available to kids now that I didn’t have and I want them to find the things that they like,” said April Cottrell, 502nd Force Support Squadron library technician.

The Thursday events at JBSA-Lackland are held from 5-6:30 p.m. An example of what participants will find themselves front and center with is programmable robots, which are aimed towards giving users a chance to learn about science and technology.

Participants use a piece of white paper, special markers and draw on the paper which will determine which direction the robot will go.

“It’s teaching kids programming,” said Diana Lisenbee, 502nd Force Support Squadron supervisory librarian. “They get to teach the little robot something new: you can make it dance and you can make it go in circles-it’s really fun.

On Lego night, patrons are encouraged to assemble colorful toys and their creations are sometimes put on display at the library for a week. As for craft night, participants can find themselves using paint supplies to create a freestyle picture, finger painting or even making gifts for loved ones.

During one recent STEM night, children learned about science when they put some ingredients in a bowl and created a squishy substance.

“They may not like science at school, but they might find out that they like doing these fun, weird experiments like making corn-starch slime,” Cottrell said. “The kids absolutely loved it so much, I ran out of supplies.”

In addition to the weekly story time program for pre-kindergarten through age five children, the JBSA libraries team up for the annual summer reading program.

This year, it is slated to kick off June 1 with a joint mission Disney story time at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston library. Library organizers are also planning a planetarium mobile educational event at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston June 19.   

Because libraries are evolving with what they have to offer to the patrons, Lisenbee says that preconceived notions about libraries no longer apply.

“I really think of libraries as community centers where lots of different things can happen, lots of people can come in and engage in different activities, “Lisenbee said. “We try to provide a comfortable space, a welcoming, peaceful space where people can just come in to sit down and read a book if they want to or get work done,” she added.

For more information, visit the JBSA Library Facebook page or call 210-671-3610.