Bridge City, Texas—The little library that could will celebrate twenty years on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. The Bridge City Public Library invites patrons to participate in a cake and punch celebration on that day at the library beginning at 5:30 p.m. The first and only director, Mary Montgomery, commented “It has been a pleasure developing the library collection and meeting people in the community. We’re serving the second generation of many of our original patrons.”

The Friends of the Bridge City Public Library began gathering books two and a half years before the doors of the first public library in Bridge City were opened on March 17, 1991. Back then a small group of concerned citizens addressed the needs of the community for a public library. With a tremendous response from the public, donated books began to pour in and were housed in a donated portable building then in a former dance studio.

The Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors were newly formed and hosted a softball tournament and barbecue with funds used to start the long process of building a permanent place for the city’s first library. Volunteers held many book and bake sales and by August 1988 a non-binding referendum passed showing support for city funds to be used for a new public library.

The city appointed a board of trustees for the library and plans were made to build a metal framed 2,500 square foot facility. Before they knew it, The Friends had collected over 10,000 used books that were cleaned, sorted and made ready for the library’s grand opening. Many man hours of labor were donated to build the interior of the structure with The Friends group raising funds or solicited donations to purchase shelving, equipment, brand new books, lighting, computers, a card catalog, book drop and fixtures.

After more than 1,000 volunteer hours to physically build the interior of the library, it was completed and a grand opening ceremony was held on Sunday, March 17, 1991 then the doors opened for the first time to the public on Monday, March 18, 1991. The Friends group chose St. Patrick’s Day for the grand opening “just so it would be easy to remember the anniversary associated with a holiday”, said Charlotte Chiasson, current treasurer.

Invitations for the 20th anniversary have been mailed to a list compiled of donors over the past twenty years. “I hope most of the invitations make it to their destination”, said Chiasson. “I’m afraid some may have moved since the last two hurricanes”.

John Banken was the city mayor in 1991 at the time of the library’s grand opening. The first board of trustee president was John Scales. The charter president of The Friends of the Bridge City Public Library was Charlotte Chiasson.