Library staff sewing masks, making 3D face shields

The Brownsville Public Library System may be physically closed, but its services to the public continue online.

Brownsville Public Library staff members are sewing face masks — about 20 a day — using the library sewing machines and are manufacturing 20 to 30 face shields with the library’s 3D printers. These masks and face shields will be initially distributed to essential city employees, like bus drivers and bank tellers, who are currently working to keep the city running during the pandemic.

Eight members of the library staff tested different designs and materials to sew and manufacture the masks and shields. Library staff also acquired the materials necessary to 3D print reusable face shields to help keep city employees healthy. These will be used by Brownsville Urban System bus drivers, who continue to serve routes during the pandemic.

“We’re working to keep city staff and members of the public safe during this public health emergency,” said Jerry Hedgecock, the Brownsville Public Library System’s director of public information. “All of our online resources are still available to the public.”

He said library staff members are gradually ramping up production of cloth face masks and reusable face shields

In addition, the staff is teaching the public how to sew the masks from their own homes. This video will be available on the Library’s YouTube channel and Facebook page by the end of the week, he said.

Meanwhile, the library continues to offer an expanded array of online services at and on its Facebook page.

The public can access any of the services by activating a virtual library card through the library website at

“ Our Virtual Library is Open,” says an announcement on the library Facebook page, noting that reference and customer service help is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The library responded via messenger that although it is closed to the public, its virtual library offers digital resources and programs including:

>> Axis 360, an e-book and audiobook application.

>> KnowledgeCity, a cloud based online skill builder.

>> RBDigital, a digital magazine application

>>, an on demand, one-on-one tutoring service.

>> Mango Languages, a language learning service with over 70 languages to choose from.

In addition the library offers virtual story time, how-to videos on navigating digital resources, and reading lists for parents to help guide children navigate our e-book and audiobook collection. All digital content and programs can be accessed on our Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter accounts (@brownsvillepubliclibrary).

Also, to help navigate our Virtual Library, we are now offering Virtual Assistance through phone (956)-548-1055, chat (956)-426-0119, and email, all of which can be found on the library website at Virtual Assistance is currently available Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.