HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation reports a little over 50% of adults in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy County lack basic literacy skills. Starr County sits at the lowest with 69%.

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The Harlingen Public Library is looking to increase those numbers by using evolving technology to get more visitors through the door.

The Assistant Library Director, Molly Walter said hard copy books are still in style, but there’s been a “huge spike” in audio and e-book readers, so the library has joined an online library app called Overdrive to meet those needs.

The library is also planning to build a computer lab and install more high-speed internet.

“Libraries evolve just like anything in this world. We have to meet the changing needs of our community, the changing aspirations and that’s what we’re doing,” added Walter.

The library offers a wide range of programs from birding and gardening to crafts. Walter said this way it grabs more people’s interest to visit their library.

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To promote the resources the Harlingen Public Library has, as well as literacy, the library is participating in National Library Week.

The theme for this year is ‘Connect With Your Library.’

Walter said the theme is all about connecting people to each other, literacy, and the many resources libraries have. She also said this year’s theme hits close to home as connecting people and resources is their mission statement.

Throughout the week, the library will have different community leaders read children’s books virtually. Participants include Mayor Chris Boswell, City Commissioner Rene Perez, Harlingen CISD Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola, and others.

Walter said the goal for this week is to rekindle a child’s love for reading.

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“It’s that enthusiasm, that excitement that is something that’s going to lead to a lifetime of literacy and when they have that love for reading from a very early age, it’s going to serve them throughout life in so many ways,” stated Walter.

According to healthline, there is a wide range of benefits to reading which include but are not limited to a reduction in stress, increased brain activity, and can strengthen one’s vocabulary and comprehension.

To wrap up National Library Week, the Harlingen Public Library will be hosting an event on Saturday, April 9 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in their courtyard. It will include family games, bounce houses, realistic-looking dinosaurs, and resources from across the community.

Walter told ValleyCentral that community engagement is important to the library. She encourages everyone to come out to the event or participate in the virtual readings on their Facebook page.