One of our happy achievements is the Port Mansfield Library. It is unique in many ways, having evolved over some 13 years from a simple idea to what today is probably the only volunteer, self-sustaining library of its kind.
In 1979, Rollie and Betts Melville started work to provide Port Mansfield with its own library. The main library building was originally a small frame house used as a filling station and live bait stand on the north side of the harbor, about where the Mansfield Club stands today. The Navigation District was willing to donate the building if it could be moved from the harbor. A lease was negotiated with the District on property adjacent to the Port Mansfield Post Office and arrangements were made to move the building from a crane service in Pharr, Texas. These generous people moved the building and set it up at its present location at no charge. Then the work began to make the building presentable and usable as a library. With many contributions of books and money, the Library was opened in January, 1980. With a wonderful staff of volunteers, lots of bake sales, cookbooks, rummage sales, Arts and Crafts fairs, etc., plus the liberal donations of books and money, it was kept afloat. We’ve had a lot of help and support from the Chamber of Commerce and the townspeople.
In 1982, a new addition and bathroom was added to house the much increased inventory. After 13 years, with all-volunteer labor the Library runs at a profit and has an inventory of over 50,000 books. We are all very proud of the job we’ve done.
Excerpt from the Port Mansfield Seafood Cookbook, published by the Port Mansfield Library)