UVALDE – As Director Tammie Sinclair of El Progreso Memorial Library (EPML) readies herself and her children for the day ahead, Sinclair takes note of each garment, imprinting the details in her mind.  

In the case of an emergency, Sinclair will know exactly what her children are wearing if she needs to locate and identify them.  

“It’s different you know, I do things now that I never really did before, I always think I have more time than I actually do in the morning to get ready but it’s little things now that have changed my habits. I need to remember what my kids are wearing today,” said Sinclair.  

Sinclair mentions the green Converse that one of the victims, 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez, of the Uvalde, Texas shooting was wearing. The right shoe had a little black heart in the center. With these shoes, the victim’s parents were able to identify her.  

“You think of those green converse and that was something that was really big in this,” said Sinclair.  

On May 24, 2022, a mass shooting at Robb Elementary killed 19 children and two teachers when a shooter armed with an AR-15 stormed the school rooms and remained in the school for 77 minutes before the United States Border Patrol fatally shot him.  

Uvalde has since been met with a sea of revolving therapists, artists, actors, and organizations that want to help the community heal.  

Many donations were sent to El Progreso Memorial Library including books, art pieces, and quilts. Among the many donations is a sculpture of 1,000 paper cranes, symbolizing peace for the community. It is the first thing you see when walking into the library. 

Over 9,000 items were sent to Uvalde, and the library director at the time, Mendell Morgan, soon realized it was time to assess a team to help preserve the number of items, including full-body wooden cutouts of the 21 victims and sympathy cards.  

The Los Angelitos De Robb Archival Media collection is housed at the library’s Virginia Wood Davis Archive, dedicated to documenting the history of Uvalde.  

“The intent was to grasp the community and national response to the tragedy, and we chose to focus on the positive outcomes, so who showed up to support and that was really our intent in letting families whenever they needed to come back and reflect on all the people who showed up willing to help,” Sinclair said.  

In February, through the partnership with the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) and Humanities Texas, a package of $70,000 was granted for EPML to support the ongoing development of this remembrance project. The organizing of these materials required expert-level knowledge on how to preserve delicate items. 

The journey to finding someone started with opening job positions for an archivist and oral historian. 

At the time, Sinclair was finishing her studies at the University of North Texas, but she was in communication with Morgan. Sinclair, a Uvalde native said it was like a calling to take the job and assist her hometown with the archive as an archivist. The idea of being the director was not in the works until later.  

“I knew I wanted to help my hometown and the community, so I talked to Mendell at the time who was the current director, and said I think I’d like to apply,” Sinclair said.  

At the start of the catalog’s organizing, Morgan was heading toward retirement and Sinclair would soon follow as his successor. Now she works as the director of the library, and it is a childhood manifestation of hers.  

“After the grant ended, I would become library director and the board approved it. It is something that is very impactful for the community but also in the international humanities level,” said Sinclair.  

For the bereaved community of Uvalde, El Progreso Memorial Library has served as a sanctuary. The library opened its doors the day after the shooting, to provide a space for anyone who needed it.  

The library continues its mission to provide library services and programs for the Uvalde community.  

The Crosses and their response to the library’s work 

Brett and Nikki Cross lost Uziyah “Uzi” Garcia, 10, at the shooting at Robb Elementary School. The Crosses have been vocal about their fight for gun control.  

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Although the Cross family has no direct involvement with the El Progreso Memorial Library’s work, they still recognize the efforts the library has taken to repair their community. 

“They’re doing a lot of good stuff for other kids, I see the work that they do,” Brett Cross said.  

The Crosses said how important it is for children to grow up learning and reading is a big part of that process. Libraries are a staple in a child’s life, they provide free access to books, learning materials, and resources.  

“Just being a library in and of itself, is a huge thing for a city to have. In that aspect, that is what I love.” Brett Cross said. 

The Los Angelitos de Robb Archive will be completed and digitized for remote access later this year. The media collection is accessible for viewing at the EPML library via their computers.  

“The world cares and that is an amazing thing,” Brett Cross said.  

The Crosses express their appreciation for the library’s dutiful work to preserve the collections.  

“Uzi’s story didn’t just end that day. His impact and his reach has traveled far further than that. The people that came and put stuff down on his cross at the plaza, where I’m sure this stuff was collected from, that is a story,” Brett Cross said.  

“It definitely will get more reach in this day and age if it’s digitized,” said Nikki Cross.  

El Progreso Memorial Library stands to be a source of resilience and compassion for the community of Uvalde.  

To stay up to date on El Progreso Memorial Library and their work, visit this page

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