Institutions such as the World Bank say we should invest in getting more kids to read, because higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth and higher employment rates.

The Spring Branch Family Development Center has been acting on the recommendation and is preparing to do even more.

SBFDC hopes to build a full-service public library soon on its site at 8575 Pitner Road.

Serving more than 12,000 Houstonians each year, SBFDC exists to enhance the well-being and development of the families of Spring Branch. The center provides educational, recreational, health and social services in English and Spanish.

You may know SBFDC from its health fairs, including a back-to-school immunization and school supply event that is critical in preparing thousands of area students for the start of school each year.

The library project grew from a long-term commitment to literacy and giving families tools for success, said Laura Abrams Segura, director of donor and community engagement for SBFDC.

“There is a thirst for knowledge and tools, and access,” she said.

SBFDC already has a partnership with the Harris County Public Library, which Abrams Segura said began when the center saw the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation launch its mobile Curiosity Cruiser collaboration with HCPL several years ago.

Mobile library visit

“We reached out to the Curiosity Cruiser and they began participating in our biannual Spring/Fall Fiestas,” Abrams Segura said. “During the pandemic, they began coming more frequently to distribute books during our monthly mobile food pantry.”

The Curiosity Cruiser provides a weekly story time for young children and free books to 3- and 4-year-olds at Panda Path School for Early Learning. It creates new library cards, checks out books to adult ESL students and clients of SBFDC’s other services (like Spring Branch Community Health Center and UTHealth WIC) and provides STEM programming with Boys and Girls Club members at SBFDC.

The programs are very popular, Abrams Segura said. “Families line up before the Cruiser arrives.”

The center unveiled plans for the new library at a recent fundraiser. Watch a related video at

“For over 20 years, our roots have grown deep into the community — helping families flourish,” the announcer in the video says.

Abrams Segura said that, prior to the pandemic, the SBFDC Board and leadership evaluated how SBFDC has assisted families over the past two decades, and what would further enrich its services for the next 20 years and beyond.

“It was very clear, combining prior history, assessing needs with clients, and looking from a bird’s eye view at our services and community needs, that a public library would be a natural fit,” Abrams Segura said. “We began conversations with HCPL leadership and they also believed it would be a good fit.”

SBFDC and HCPL are in the “site assessment” stage of the initiative, she said, and no timeline has been set yet  for construction to start. The total cost is still being determined, and the project will need community support.

Donate here:

Spring Branch Family Development Center
8575 Pitner Road Houston, TX 77080

— by Dorothy Puch Lillig