The world of books is one Jourdanton Librarian Dorothy Manning is passionate about. May marked 30 years that she has served as the librarian for the City of Jourdanton.
Manning’s family moved frequently when she was a child, as her father worked as a truck driver. In 1969 during her senior year of high school, the family moved from Pearsall to Jourdanton.
At that time, Jourdanton didn’t have a city library and the school library didn’t offer a large selection, nor was there anywhere to buy books.
This was difficult for Manning, whose love for books began when her family lived in Three Rivers.
Both Three Rivers and Pearsall had libraries.
“I read all the time,” shared Manning. “I can remember Momma coming in and turning off the light and telling me, ‘Go to bed.’ As soon as she’d leave, I’d turn the light back on.”
She later added, “I can’t imagine a day without reading something.”
Manning graduated from Jourdanton High School in 1970. She worked for the Atascosa County Livestock Exchange and an insurance company for 18 years.
At that time, her husband Ted Manning was overseas. He wanted her to quit her job so they could spend more time together when he was on leave.
Manning quit her job and two weeks later, she got a job at the library. After an interview with the mayor, she was hired as the librarian.
Manning had been involved with the library before that, as she had been president of the Friends of the Library for 10 years. She had also served on the library board.
“Libraries have always been near and dear to my heart,” said Manning.
Her duties now include administrative tasks such as keeping the library running, handling the budgets and buying the books. She also supervises others, but said the staff knows what to do, as they have all been there for so long. The library team includes Myrtle LaGrange who has been with the library for 20 years, Tessa White who has been with the city for approximately 15 years and Mary Cardenas who has been with the library for approximately three years.
Manning also handles fundraising for the library. The Friends group, she shared, is such a great, helpful group. She loves assisting students with research and term papers and searching for topics.
“I learned that from a librarian. I learned that in Pearsall- how to look, how to use the card catalog and how to think outside the box,” said Manning.
She can aid others in how to narrow down finding sources on a topic when they have difficulty doing so.
Manning is drawn to books about mysteries and suspense. She keeps up to date on what people are interested in when it comes to purchasing books for the library.
The transition to going online was a major change in Manning’s career. She thought she would retire before then, but did not. She has great staff that are savvy on computers.
While some will say that no one reads any more, Manning emphasized that this is not true.
“It’s not true at all. We still have our faithful readers,” said Manning.
While many libraries are going to digital books, Manning wants the best sellers for her patrons, which are expensive to buy. She cannot justify buying a digital book for $80 each that will go away after a specific number of readings.
While she enjoys reading digital books, she also loves being able to hold a physical book in her hand.
“I like it when someone discovers a new author. They want to read everything they ever wrote,” said Manning.
The library tries to purchase most of its fiction works in large print and has a large collection of such books.
Even earlier this year at the height of the pandemic when the library was closed, Manning and staff would pick some books out for patrons and bring them out the back door.
Manning also serves in the Jourdanton Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Library and the Jourdanton Garden Club. She helps other organizations when she can, as she recently donated baked goods for the Peace for the Pieces social group.
The library’s biggest fundraiser is the annual salad luncheon in the summer. However, due to the pandemic, it was cancelled this year.
The current building has been in existence now for 19 years, she pointed out. The Jourdanton Library is currently open Monday- Friday from 9 to 5:30 p.m. to allow for proper cleaning.
“I’m proud of our library. Our Friends of the Library raised the money to build this library,” said Manning.
Her husband Ted passed away in 1996, the same year fundraising for the library began.
“The Chamber of Commerce had been talking about how they needed a new Community Center,” said Manning. “We needed a new library so we combined those two and we started like in June. Ted died in May.”
It was a busy five years of fundraising events.
“They would call after an event and ask, ‘How much did we make?’ Everybody was so generous,” Manning said. “To me that is what makes our community so special, the way that people come together.”