The Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library is the culmination of many years of library service within the City of Nederland. The Orange Hotel housed 1,000 books and was the City's first "library." Later the Jefferson County Library Bookmobile began visits to Nederland twice a week. When this proved inadequate for the growing library circulation, a branch station was opened in Morgan's Dry Cleaners with Mrs. Hazel Morgan acting as librarian.
In December 1932, the Nederland-Port Neches Lions Club held a meeting of citizens in the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. McNeill, Jr. and plans were made to erect Nederland's first library building. All materials and labor were donated with the exception of $200 raised by the finance committee. The small, white frame building, located at the corner of Boston Avenue and 10th Street, was erected in less than a month and the "housewarming" was held on December 27, 1932. Mrs. C. E. Gibson served as the librarian for 17 years, not retiring until the age of 74. Active with the financing and construction were J. L. Black, J. B. Cooke, Jr., C. O. Gardner, J. C. Kelly, and Dr. Burnette Hall. Reta Duncan (Piland) served as Jefferson County Librarian.
The little building finally proved inadequate in the 1950s as Nederland began to grow and the Lions Club once again spear-headed the drive for a new library. One of the major contributions was the $2,000 profit that had been realized from the Golden Jubilee celebration held in 1948. Land was obtained through the generosity of the Doornbos Interests and work began on the project with the Lions Club members leading the way. On June 3, 1963, an attractive masonry block building at 1903 Atlanta Avenue was opened with a book stock of 1,500 volumes. The facility served as a branch of the Jefferson County Library System. The City of Nederland maintained the building and grounds; Jefferson County provided the books and librarian.
In October 1975, Nederland Public Library became a fully budgeted department of the City of Nederland, with a book stock of 15,000 volumes and circulation of 31,000. In 1977, a bond issue was passed to double the size of the 2,100 square foot building and to update and remodel the interior. The Nederland Heritage Festival Committee donated $8,000 for carpeting and interior furniture. During the time of construction, D. Bob Henson, Nederland's City Manager of 22 years was killed in a tragic boating accident. On March 15, 1981, the building was dedicated and renamed the D. Bob Henson Memorial Library. Mrs. Barbara Hooks Newberry was employed as branch librarian in 1966. She was Library Director from 1975, when the Library became a department of the City, until her retirement in 1992.
Ms. Newberry was succeeded by Brenda Warren from 1992-1995. Ms. Warren moved the Library into the technological age by automating the circulation and catalog functions. In 1994, the Library became a member of the Houston Area Library Automated Network (HALAN). This not only automated the standard library functions of circulation and cataloging, but allowed the Library to subscribe to a number of specialized databases, such as Magazine Index. For the first time, patrons were also able to dial into the Library's catalog from home.
Beginning in late 1995, the Library started its move into a new era of service under the directorship of Victoria L. Klehn. The Library and City of Nederland were donated an old grocery store/furniture store for use as a new facility. Funds were raised through grant applications and local fund raising activities, architectural plans were developed and the project was bid between 1996 and 1997. Construction began December 1997 and was completed in August 1998. The new library dedication was held on September 20th 1998 and the library doors opened the following day. The 16,000 square foot facility increased seating and shelving space, as well as adding a meeting room, study rooms, conference room, story-telling area and archive collection. Since that time the library staff has concentrated its efforts on improving and enhancing the library's programs and services.