Jacinto City Branch Library
Beginning in the late 1940s, the Jacinto City community was served by the HCPL bookmobile, with service every three weeks. 200 to 300 patrons regularly visited the bookmobile.
In 1957, the citizens of Jacinto City requested a library branch. The city agreed to furnish the building and equipment, while the county supplied the books and a librarian. A Library Board was then created by Jacinto City Mayor A. J. "Bert" Holder (seen here). County Librarian Mary Butler sent a letter of congratulations to members of the library board.
On May 14, 1958, the first Library Board Meeting was held.
Jacinto City Council approved the use of the former City Hall building for the library. In June 1958, the building was moved to a spot near the baseball park and recreation center on 1026 Mercury Drive (seen here). The building was renovated to make it suitable for a book collection. The project cost $3,422.61.
The renovated building held 2,600-3,000 books, and the first librarian was Dorothy Bowyer, who had taken library science courses at the University of Houston. Bowyer would serve as the librarian for the branch for 31 years.
On June 29, 1958, the library held an open house ceremony. Mayor Holder and County Commissioner Ben Ramsey cut the ribbon on the new building.
The library opened for use on July 2. On the first day, 144 new library cards were registered, and 289 books were checked out.
The Houston Chronicle featured the branch in an article published at the end of July. The article noted that HCPL had a total collection of 85,000 books, 2,787 of which were at the Jacinto City branch.
The 1959 Vacation Reading Club at Jacinto City, with librarian Dorothy Bowyer (back row, far left). Each club member had to read 15 books selected by the club organizers, including titles on folklore, adventure, science, and fiction. Of the 102 registered children that summer, 35 completed the required reading (seen here).
By the end of 1959, the branch nearly 1,000 registered borrowers; nearly 16% of Jacinto City residents had a library card. Usage of the branch had doubled since its opening day.
In July 1960, the Library Board submitted a list of library needs for the next year to the Jacinto City Council. In addition to more space to hold books, the building needed a telephone, a typewriter and desk, better lighting, and a card catalog to help customers search the book collection. One of the more unusual requests was for a screen over the window that faced the baseball park since it would be cheaper to replace the screen than a glass window if a ball made it over the fencing.
The library was circulating 2,000 books a month during the winter, and 3,000 books a month during the summer.
In December, bids were taken for a 12x33x9’ addition to the library, funded by the city for $3,422.61
The addition was completed in February 1961. A new reading room and study room were added, and the front of the building received a new brick trim.
HCPL had just hit a major milestone in March 1962, when over 118,000 County residents borrowed books. The Library system owned only 110,648 volumes!
On April 10th, the Jacinto City branch held an open house during National Library Week. A local Girl Scout Troop served refreshments.
The theme for the Summer Reading Club that year was the Colt .45s, the new professional baseball team for Houston that started their inaugural season that year (they would be renamed the Astros in 1965). Children read 16 books over the summer to work their way through the positions on the field.
Residents of Jacinto City regularly donated books to the library to supplement the collection provided by the County. Donations included magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Time, a set of encyclopedias, and hundreds of books from private collections.
In 1964, a local girl scout troop visited the library.
In 1969, the branch rewarded 110 children who completed the summer reading club requirements with tickets to a children's play at Jones Hall on July 24, 25, and 26. Doris Garren, the Assistant Librarian, went to the performance on July 26th with seven children, and she reported: "they found the play delightful."
In 1972, Tiwania McLuen donated four highly requested books to the branch to honor her husband Powd on his 85th birthday, including the 1969 bestseller I'm OK, You're OK, by Thomas A. Harris, and a guide to fixing color televisions. The library held a party to celebrate Powd's birthday.
Powd McLuen and Branch Librarian Dorothy Bowyer are seen in this photo from the party.
In July 1973, the branch held an open house to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary.
Pictured here is a storytime held in 1976 for children from a local daycare. The branch began offering mobile story hours to expand its service to the community.
On September 8, the branch hosted a plant workshop and swap.
The branch held a pet parade in 1977.
The next day, the library celebrated National Children's Book Week with a children's carousel puppet show on a bus.
The Jacity Friends of the Library had been pushing for a larger library for the community since late 1974. An attempt was made to acquire the old Jacinto City Bank building, which ultimately failed. During this time, the Friends raised $2,200 to fund a new building.
In 1978, Jacinto City Council approved plans to expand and renovate the existing building. City Council promised $10,000 to the project.
Jacinto City held a July 4th Fest in 1978, the proceeds of which would be donated to fund the addition. The event raised about $3,000. Pictured here is the raising of the flag at the library on Independence Day.
A member of the Jacinto City community offered to donate the proceeds of the sale of her Shetland pony Mousie to the library. Unfortunately, no one offered to buy the pony, and it was later stolen.
View of the interior of the new addition in 1979. The addition provided a public restroom and a staff office. The partitions in the older part of the building were taken down and the interior was rearranged.
Outside of the branch with the annex extension.
Extensive renovations of the building took place, and the library reopened in January 1980. An open house was held on the afternoon of Sunday, January 27, 1980.
The branch held an Easter Egg Hunt on April 14, 1980.
In July of 1983, the branch celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The branch's sign blew down during Hurricane Alicia in September 1983.
In 1984, a tornado swept through Jacinto City, causing lots of damage to the community. Fortunately, the library was not damaged.
The branch received new sidewalks and parking spaces in January 1986.
Puppet show during the summer of 1987. Children's Librarian Mary Williams is pictured in the center, with librarians from the Woodforest and Galena Park branches.
That September, HCPL Director Cathy Park created a proposal for a new building for the branch.
In December, a $2 million bond was proposed for new city buildings, including the library.
The community worked together to raise funds for the furnishing. One such fundraiser was a drawing for a carousel horse donated by Kathy Sexton.
The Friends of the Jacinto City Library also held a barbecue dinner fundraiser.
After a few attempts, the City of Jacinto City selected a site for the new building in 1992. The new address would be 921 Akron, just a few streets over from the current building. Plans were made to protect and preserve a huge tree near the front of the lot. The new building would be 3,890 square feet, more than twice the size of the building on Mercury Street.
The groundbreaking took place in August 1993.
View an elevation of the new building.
The grand opening of the new library (seen here) took place on January 9, 1994. The building was dedicated to A.J. ‘Bert’ Holder, former Jacinto City mayor.
Dorothy Bowyer, who had retired in 1989, attended the grand opening. Bowyer, who had campaigned heavily for establishing the library in the 1950s, and had campaigned for multiple expansions and renovations, told a local paper: "I'm really thrilled to see the city get a new library."
Chinese Heritage Family Night program in May 2008.
Jacinto City Branch Library staff in 2009.
In 2011, an addition to the back of the building was constructed, and the interior was renovated.
The branch reopened on December 27, 2011.
Students from Whittier Elementary School visited the library in November 2012 for storytime.
Jacinto City Councilman Allan Lee reads A Night Before Christmas to children during a Pictures with Santa program in December 2017.
Jacinto City Branch Library staff teamed up with Galena Park Branch Library staff to represent HCPL at a Back to School Fair sponsored by Harris County Precinct 2. The event, which took place in August 2018, connected students returning to school with homework and other resources at their local library branches.
The Curiosity Cruiser, decorated with some garlands, came out for the Jacinto City Christmas parade in December 2018.
In 2019, an HCPL grant from the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation and Phillips 66 to promote literacy, learning, and health for families provided professional development for staff, along with books and educational toys as part of the Family Place Libraries national initiative. The George and Barbara Bush Family Place at the Jacinto City Branch Library opened in October 2019.
The redesigned space provides a welcoming environment for young children to learn new skills, develop small motor skills, interact socially with others and read books as a family. The Family Place initiative also included workshops for parents and toddlers that promoted learning and development through play.
Jacinto City Branch staff regularly attended the Market Days and Market by Night events. Pictured here: Ann, Branch Manager Israel Favela, and Jada Mier staffing an outreach table in December 2019.
As 2020 progressed and the Coronavirus pandemic struck Harris County, the Jacinto City Branch staff transitioned to virtual service. The staff helped customers adjust to the new curbside service and designed customized book bundles.
Seen here is the entrance to the library set up for curbside service.
Jacinto City branch staff can be seen here with their face masks in May 2020.
On May 19, 2021, the Jacinto City Branch Library reopened to the public. The Jacinto City community can once again visit their library and enjoy all the books, programs, and wonderful staff at their library.