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Friends of Port Arthur Library planning first book sale since Hurricane Harvey

A new beginning of sorts is at hand for Friends of the Port Arthur Public Library.

Made up of volunteers, the group has been on a hiatus of sorts since Hurricane Harvey’s devastating floodwaters severely damaged the library at 4615 Ninth Ave.

The flooding also left the stash of book sale inventory a soggy mess. It was sent to the city dump.

The library remained closed for just shy of two years, and now the Friends are back in operation and planning for their first book sale to benefit the library since before Harvey.

A book sale is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 for Friends of the Port Arthur Public Library members only, then open to the public from 9 a. m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 15 and Nov. 16. Prices range from 10 cents to $10 and credit/debit cards are accepted.

What they do

Book sale proceeds and Friends’ membership fees support the library though grants to fund purchases, preservation needs and literacy events, which add to the quality of the library and community.

Ray Cline, president of the Friends group, said one of their big projects is the Summer Reading Program. The group was able to help using saved funds even though there was no book sale.

“We had some money set aside prior to Harvey, and there wasn’t a Summer Reading Program immediately after Harvey; we didn’t have that expenditure,” Cline said. “We have some money in the bank but if we don’t keep working at it, it will be depleted.”

In the past, the Friends have helped cover unbudgeted seminars for library staff and have bought library equipment.

“When the library comes up with a need, we try to be there for them,” Cline said.

Funding from the Friends have helped enable digitization of hundreds of photos from the library’s local history collection that are now available on The Portal to Texas History website, sponsor a project to preserve history of local education through digitization of yearbooks from all Port Arthur schools, making them available and searchable online, and purchased a digital microform viewer/scanner/printer system for public use to provide continued access to microfilmed materials.

Ray Cline, president of the Friends of the Port Arthur Public Library, stands near a bookshelf at the library. The group is hosting its first book sale since before Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Mary Meaux/The News)

The sale

The Friends saw many donations of books from other libraries across the U.S. and individuals and the library has first dibs on any book donation the Friends receive. If the library doesn’t need the donation, then the Friends put it in the book sale. Cline said many of the books up for sale are new books that were donated after Harvey.

They are in good shape and many are hardcover.

Lynne Lange Sutherlin, secretary of the Friends group, said they are also trying to get people to see all the new items added since the renovation.

“It really is something,” Sutherlin said. “We hope people can come in, get books, get bargains and reading materials to enjoy and see all that the library has to offer.”

Cline himself has a deep connection to the library, having worked there for 32 years, 19 of those as director. When the library reopened earlier this year the Ray Cline Courtyard was dedicated in his honor.

“For those of us who volunteer, we love the library,” Cline said. “It’s just like our spirit is lifted to be back in business, so to speak.”