‘Library of the future’ named after Rice alumna, astronaut now open

Dr. Shannon Walker Neighborhood Library holds grand opening celebration

Group shot with Dr. Shannon Walker

The Dr. Shannon Walker Neighborhood Library, named in honor of the three-time Rice University graduate and NASA astronaut, has officially opened its doors in Houston’s Westbury neighborhood. On June 1, a grand opening celebration marked the beginning of what Walker called the “library of the future.”

Shannon Walker
Shannon Walker (center right) with with Martha Castex-Tatum, mayor pro-tem of the city of Houston, and faculty from the Westbury High School band.

Located at 5505 Belrose Drive, the impressive facility spans approximately 23,000 square-feet and offers an array of amenities including a café, passport office, recording studio and podcast room as well as children’s, teen and adult areas, meeting room, conference room, computers and more.

“I am truly grateful and humbled beyond words,” said Walker, NASA’s first native Houstonian astronaut who grew up in Westbury, making the honor all the more special.

During her speech, she recalled her childhood visits to the Meyer Neighborhood Library, where she would eagerly check out mystery and adventure books. These literary journeys “sparked” her imagination for exploring the beyond.

“I have no doubt that the time spent exploring the library fueled my desire to explore the world and the cosmos. Books were freedom. They could transport me to the most interesting and amazing places. And now I’ve been transported here,” she said. “I truly struggle to find the words to describe what it means to have this library named for me. To say that it is an honor really doesn’t do it justice.”

Dr. Shannon Walker Neighborhood Library
A look inside the Dr. Shannon Walker Neighborhood Library.

Walker has flown two missions aboard the International Space Station. She spent six months aboard the ISS in 2010 and returned in Nov. 2020 as a member of the historic SpaceX Crew-1 mission , the first commercial crewed operational flight to the station. Walker and three crewmates spent 167 days aboard the station before returning May 2, 2021, in the first nighttime splashdown at sea since Apollo 8 in 1968.

The new library combines the services of Meyer Neighborhood Library and the Frank HPL Express Library. It serves the Westbury, Meyerland, Brays Oak and Hiram Clarke neighborhoods.

“It is my hope that those in the community, especially kids, will come here and make lifelong friendships, not just with people but with books,” Walker said. “This library is a starting point for so many places to go.”