On behalf of the Tamez Family, Patricia Rosas shares her reflections on the design experience of Birdie’s Nook. What began as a small idea blossomed, revealing unexpected promise to her, her family, and their community.
On Saturday, May 13, the family of Bertha Tamez held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Monticello Park to open a little library built to honor their mother. The library, affectionately nicknamed ‘Birdie’s Nook’ was designed by Overland Partners. Overland was recognized by Architect magazine as one of the top 50 design firms in the United States in 2015 and one of the top 50 sustainable design firms in 2016. Inspired by the children’s book The Giving Tree, Overland Intern Coordinator (and Monticello Park resident) Ben Rosas set out in March to invest in the growth of the firm’s aspiring architects, leading them through a small design-build project of a Little Free Library. This project was blessed to have the bright young minds from Overland, especially Jose Lizcano, Lance Brannock, and Brad Schaefer, as well as Italia, Nikhila, Fay, Aaron, Steve, Heath, Alyssa, Nat, and of course, Ben (who happens to be our son). They took this tiny seed of an idea and created this beautiful and meaningful structure that is so amazingly more than we could have ever dreamed or hoped. Without their passion, creativity, and all their hard work, this wouldn’t be here today.
The idea for this project started about a year and half ago when I first heard about the Little Free Library concept. I immediately thought of my mom, Bertha, because she is an avid and lifelong reader. Just a couple of weeks ago, I met her at the doctor’s office and had to sneak a picture of her purse because she had two books inside! She is the reason I love to read. When we were kids, Mom would take us to the library all the time: the Westfall branch, the Bookmobile; anywhere there were books, she hauled us there. Maybe it was because we had to be quiet at the library; there were six of us, after all. And with six kids, there are inevitably squabbles and fights, and books were my escape. They showed me other worlds and other times. Mom and Dad taught us right from wrong, and books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings reinforced those values. Books were a refuge, but they became an inspiration and created a hunger to read more and learn more.
Working with Overland’s design team brought a fresh perspective to our project. They listened to the family, asked probing questions, and developed a creative and meaningful structure that speaks volumes about our intentions for this library. I love that the library has special touches that represent our family; even though they may not be visible to others, Overland made them special and meaningful to us. It’s not just a little library, it’s our little library.— Patricia Rosas, Donor Family MemberThis little library is a tribute to that passion for reading that Mom gave us, but it is also to give an enduring gift in the neighborhood where we grew up. We roamed these streets, we graduated from Jefferson, we have watched this neighborhood grow and change. Mom still lives here, my father-in-law still lives here, and two of our kids live here now as well. Our whole family was a part of this effort: my brothers and sisters and their families, and also my husband Robert – another Jefferson kid, who grew up on Club Drive – and our kids and their families. They have all supported this idea all the way through to the end. We are also grateful for the support from the Monticello Park Neighborhood Association; thank you for being engaged and involved from the beginning. We are also very thankful for the generous donations from Niko Gomes with Gessner Engineering, Alamo Concrete, Guido Lumber, Eureka Sheet Metal, Digi Print, and the Jefferson-Woodlawn Lake Community Development Corporation; you made this project a reality.
The artwork on the library was done by one of Bertha’s sons, local artist Pauly Tamez, who was there on Saturday to explain the symbolism of the artwork on each side of the library. The cactus has a main heart-shaped base with six shoots representing each of her children. The daisies surrounding it represent all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On the other panel is a tree, which faces the nearby bench. The tree is a place of rest and refuge, just as our house was to all of our friends. Everyone was always welcome in our home, just as everyone is welcome to this library.
I want to come back around to my mom and say thank you to her once again. Thank you for all those trips to the library and for encouraging us to read and for teaching us to give back more than we received. You gave us a gift, and we now give this library to this community to honor that gift and that charge, and we hope that this library will be a welcoming beacon to our community where neighbors will come together and visit a while, find a good book or leave one. As a family we are committed to maintaining this library for this neighborhood. This will always be our home. I want to add that this little library isn’t meant to replace the traditional library, but to spur the interest in reading and maybe inspire your own weekend trips to find more of what you love at the ‘big free library’. It was Napoleon Bonaparte who said, “Show me a family of readers and I will show you people who move the world”. Maybe this will be the place where you will find that book and move the world!
Birdie’s Nook is open to the public on the Monticello Park grounds. For directions, visit Google Maps. Share your visit on social media using the hashtag #BirdiesNook.