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Boyce Ditto Public Library Plan

Introduction

The City of Mineral Wells is located approximately an hour drive west of Fort Worth and 12 miles north of Interstate 20 in the county of Palo Pinto. Palo Pinto County takes its name from a creek named by the Spaniards. Palo Pinto means "painted stick" or "painted post" in Spanish. Mineral Wells is in the Cross Timber region of Texas, a picturesque area called the “Other Hill Country of Texas.”

The city is on the historic Bankhead Highway. This highway was the first all-weather trans-continental highway in the United States and ran from Washington D.C. to San Diego, California. The segment of the highway from Fort Worth to Mineral Wells featured a brick surface. The bricks were made in Thurber, Texas, a by-product of the coal mining industry there.

Mineral Wells is located on the eastern border of Palo Pinto County with part of the city protruding into Parker County. Palo Pinto County has an estimated population of 28,000 and although Mineral Wells is the largest city in the county with an estimated population of 17,000, the town of Palo Pinto is actually the county seat. The other remaining 11,000 residents of the county live in several small communities and ranches scattered over the county, with higher population density near Palo Pinto Lake and Possum Kingdom Lake.

Mineral Wells was named for the mineral water found in the area. In 1877, James Alvis Lynch, his family and 50 head of livestock left Denison, Texas looking for a drier climate in which to settle. The Lynch family chose the area that eventually became Mineral Wells. The location the Lynch family decided to settle in was four miles from the only water source, the Brazos River. In 1880 a well was drilled. At first, the water’s funny taste worried the family, so they watered their livestock with it for a time to test its safety. Soon after the family began to drink from the well, they found they were feeling better. News of the “healing” water spread and within a month strangers were showing up on the Lynch property, asking about the water. With the popularity of the water spreading, the town of Mineral Wells was laid out in the fall of 1881, with Mr. Lynch naming himself the first mayor.

While Mineral Wells has historically been a town of healing waters and a resort, it has also been a base for the military. It was a primary base for the Army in World War II and during the Vietnam Conflict.

Historical, Current, and Future Roles

In the past the library had a small collection of items that came primarily from the Army post library when it closed. Programs offered by the library were limited. Currently the library strives to be a center for lifelong learning; provides free and equal access to information; serves as a formal education support; provides a community meeting place; provides public computer access; provides space for the Texas Workforce agency; provides information assistance; is a center for Local History & Genealogy and promotes early childhood literacy.

In the future, the library would like to expand the local history and genealogy collections to create a Heritage Center. The Heritage Center is intended to become a revenue generating asset to the business community by attracting visitors interested in history and genealogy to the city. The Heritage Center would also serve as a repository of information for other attractions in the area such as the Palo Pinto Jail Museum and the Mountaineer Heritage Complex.

Existing Programs

The library’s existing programs include: Summer Reading Program for children; annual Teen & Adult Summer Reading program; weekly story time programs for ages 3-5; Babygarten (6 week series for infants & toddlers) held multiple times a year; quarterly lecture series on local history and periodic special event programs. The library also has a Teen Advisory Council that meets monthly and hosts an open mic night at the library featuring music, singing, and comedy routines.

The Library takes donated and deleted books and magazines to seniors in various retirement facilities and Meals on Wheels. The consortium borrowing and ILL requests have grown along with increased foot traffic. The Library hosts a Local History Roundtable quarterly and invites all county’s genealogical and historical organizations to participate. As the Library adds to its digital collections on the Portal to Texas History, there have been more phone calls, emails and face to face inquiries about the history of Mineral Wells and the surrounding counties.

Identified Needs

Identified needs for the community include: new housing for all income levels; mid-to-large sized businesses that can provide employment for local residents and there are a number social issues that need to be addressed such as unemployment, drug use, teen pregnancy, and lack of education.

The combination of upper management people living outside the community, older retired educated people passing away, and younger less educated lower income people without a sense of community identity is a challenge both for the community and the library.

The library itself needs more funding, more staff, more space, and deferred maintenance of the facility needs to be addressed. A challenge the library faces is its location. Vacant land is on either side of the library and across the street is a pipe manufacturing facility. The library is not in a high traffic, high visibility location. While the library is near the main East-West thoroughfare, the library is not easily identifiable. If one does not know the location of the library, it can be difficult to find. The library is on the edge of a 1970s neighborhood of primarily retired people. To the south of the library is a very mixed neighborhood of retired people and young families with small children.

Identified Assets

Today ranching, small business and light industry support the area. Identified assets for the community include: local airport; a regional hospital; an extension of Weatherford College; a state contracted penal institution; public swimming pool; public park with skateboard ramps; cinema; bowling alley; golf course; city recreation center; tennis courts; baseball fields; pharmacies, fast food and small retail businesses. The largest employer in Mineral Wells is the school district.

Assets for the library include: a large 10,000 square foot facility; large digital collection of historical photographs available via the Portal to Texas History through the University of North Texas; collection of children’s books in Spanish/English received through Amo Leer grant; large collection of military history and is located near 2 elementary schools. The staff assets include staff with knowledge and skills in: technology; local history; grant writing; commitment to encouraging early literacy; establishing partnerships; genealogy experience; storytelling and gaming experience.

Thank You Statement

The Library Staff would like to thank the City Manager, the City Council, and the Library Advisory Board for their support and help. The Library appreciates the financial help provided by the Friends of the Library and the many civic organizations that have allowed us to increase the number of people we serve and how we serve them; to offer more programming to address the needs of targeted populations, and to promote local history.

Location

Boyce Ditto Public Library
300 SE Martin Luther King Jr Street Mineral Wells, TX 76067-5763
United States
32° 48' 14.418" N, 98° 6' 40.4712" W
AttachmentSize
boyce_ditto_plan.pdf187.27 KB
Keywords: 
Summer Reading Program, Teen Advisory Council

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