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Lake Charles Public Library and Calcasieu Parish Public Library

In 1944, members of the first Calcasieu Parish Public Library Board of Control met in the Police Jury Office of the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse. Mr. O.B. Crozier of Sulphur was President at that time, and Mr. B. T. Wait of Iowa was Vice President. Joining them on that first board was Mr. W. E. Holbrook of DeQuincy; Mr. H. A. Norton of Lake Charles; Miss Sallie Farrell, the newly-appointed Parish Librarian; Mr. C. W. Gabbert, Parish Treasurer; Mrs. Joe Reeves of Gillis; and Mrs. H. N. Lane of Vinton.

There was to be a Demonstration Library; supervised by the Louisiana Library Commission, which would operate for one year. At the end of the trial period, residents of Calcasieu Parish would have the opportunity to vote whether they wanted a public library system to remain in the parish. Headquarters for the system would be in Lake Charles, at Kirby and Hodges Streets, with branches located in municipalities throughout the parish.

First Headquarters (as it was then known)·opened, then Sulphur, followed by Iowa, DeQuincy, Westlake, Bell City, Hayes, Starks, and Vinton. Fairview followed, as did Prairieland, English Bayou, Gillis, LaGrange, Edgerly, and Maplewood. Just over 7,000 books circulated that first month of operation.

At the end of 1944, when the parish-wide election was called, a .75 mill tax for the next decade was approved, to take effect in May, 1945. Popular votes for the library tax proposition totaled 397, while popular votes against the library tax proposition numbered only 14. Over the next year, the Carver (now Epps Memorial) and Moss Bluff branch­es were opened, bringing the total number of libraries throughout the parish to eighteen.

Calcasieu Parish residents continued to stand behind and patron­ize their public libraries through the years, voting to increase their level of support to 1.5 mills in 1954, and finally; to 4.57 mills in 1990. Because of the high patron commitment, the library was able to renovate or rebuild every library in the system during the five years between 1990 and 1995.

Together, the Calcasieu Parish Public Libraries housed over 300,000 items: audio/visual materials, books-on-tape, compact discs, record albums, and videotapes as well as books. The Sulphur Regional Library alone circulated over 9,000 items a week. An information leader for half a century, the library turned to the future, adding dial-up modem access, so patrons could browse through the library's collections without having to leave their homes, and for Internet access, to give patrons entry into the world's information stores.  Once these plans were implemented, the number of registered patrons quadrupled, the number of books per capita tripled, and the hand · stamps were replaced by-computer bar codes.

The Calcasieu' Parish Public Library still maintains the same unanswering commitment to patrons and to service that were its bywords half a century ago. That dedication can perhaps best be summed up by the library's mission previous statement:

"The Calcasieu Parish Public Library is committed to serving all the people who live in the parish with books, information, and services through a network of branches that are conveniently located and easy to use. The library strives to help people enjoy their free time, make informed decisions, and continue learning all their lives. The Library Board and staff are committed to providing high-quality, cost-effective service that meets the needs of all parish residents."

Bell City Branch

The Bell City Branch Library opened April 4, 1944, at 8:00 pm, and was the sixth library·to open in the system. Housed in Bell City Elementary School, the-library consisted of a few volumes on a few shelves, closed off by a set of doors that were opened during library hours: 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm, Tuesdays and Fridays. Mrs. Max Johnston was the first Branch Manager. Early reports show that the Bell City Library was used extensively, and that it enjoyed strong support from the start.

Police Juror Dewey Verret commented, "We are distributing all, and in Germany they are burning and suppressing books." Topics checked out that April included: industrial electricity, child care, new books on the war, aircraft spotter's handbook, and biographies.

In August 1944, the Bell City Library moved into a small office owned by Andrew Delaney, husband of new Branch Manager Hanan V. Delaney, and was formally dedicated t the community. The library remained in that location, with additions and renovations over the years, until 1990, when the Capital Improvement Program allowed purchase of land, and the renovation and expansion of a new building. Before it closed, the Bell City Branch Library measured 720 square feet, and housed approximately 6,000 volumes and 22 magazine titles, as well as compact discs. Work was completed, and the new library opened in January 1994.  

On ?, the Bell City branch closed.

Carnegie Memorial Branch

Originally the Lake Charles Library, the Carnegie Memorial Library was founded in 1901 when W. S. B. McLaren, President of the North American Land and Timber Company of London, England, visited Lake Charles – and through area Manager Austin V. Eastman – donated the present library site provided Andrew Carnegie would donate $10,000 for a building and that the City of Lake Charles would appropriate not less than $1,000 annually for maintenance. [1]

By March 1904, the Lake Charles Library was open to the public, serving a population of 5,000 with a collection of 706 volumes, on the same land at the corner of Pujo and Bilbo Streets. The building is still located there as of today, and Miss Verona Keener was the first librarian of the Lake Charles Library. On opening day, Miss Keener registered 30 new library patrons before noon, and circulation totaled 15,189 during the library’s first year of operation. [1]

In 1910, Lake Charles Library joined the Louisiana State Library Association and held a series of lectures given by visiting lecturers, courtesy of the University of Chicago. The library was not damaged in the great fire of 1910, partially due to the private water supply of the Majestic Hotel, which was then located across the street. [1]

Hurricanes and time weathered the library. In 1949, a bond issue was passed by the citizens of Lake Charles to build a new library. The new library was constructed over 3 years and was reopened to the public on March 14, 1952. Built with taxpayer money, the library was then known as the Lake Charles Public Library. [1]

During the 1950s, the library expanded its offerings with the creation of an audio/visual department. Late in the decade, the library experimented with lending art prints. In the 1960s, the library added a microfilm collection and began to lend sculpture replicas. [1]

Though there had been talk through the years of consolidation of the Lake Charles Public Library with the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System, the city Council and Calcasieu Parish Police Jury did not vote to do so until 1974. Miss Mary Louise Giraud, former Head Librarian of Lake Charles Public Library, was made Parish Librarian. When the Police Jury purchased land on the corner of Ernest and West Claude for the future location of the Central Library, the Lake Charles Public Library was rechristened “Carnegie Memorial.” [1]

In 1993, the Carnegie Memorial Library was renovated with funding from the 1990 Capital Improvement Program and reopened to the public in February 1994.[1]

With few interruptions to service, the Carnegie Memorial Library remained opened to the public and eventually housed the CPPL Genealogy branch and Cataloging and Computing Services within its building. In March 2020, it closed its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic; Carnegie Library’s upstairs and Genealogy section were damaged during Hurricane Laura, but plans have been made to restore the building.

[link to branch page]

[1] Calcasieu Parish Public Library (1994). Calcasieu Parish Public Library System: An Information Leader for Half a Century, Lake Charles, LA: CPPL

Central Branch

In 1944, members of the first Calcasieu Parish Public Library Board of Control met in the Police Jury Office of the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse to begin plans on building a public library system for Calcasieu Parish. Prior to the construction of the public library branches, the Louisiana Library Association supervised Demonstration Libraries for Calcasieu residents to have a trial period of public libraries prior to voting to add them as part of their community. At the end of 1944, voters approved a .75 mileage tax for the next decade with 397 votes in favor of the library tax proposition. Only 14 votes were against the mileage tax. [1]

The Central Library, or “Headquarters,” as it was then known, opened April 4, 1944, as the first library in the newly established Calcasieu Parish Public Library System. It was located at the corner of Kirby and Hodges Streets in a former store building, and Miss Ruby Tanner was the first Branch Manager. Central Library had loaned the Lake Charles Carnegie Library, which was founded in 1901 and was funded by the City of Lake Charles, over 1,000 books in 1944. The City Librarian at the time was Bernadine Glaser. [1]

Central Library experienced extreme growth and popularity and soon outgrew its quarters. In March 1947, it moved to a new building owned by Oscar Colletta at 1830 Board Street. By 1949, the library needed to move again and relocated to 420-424 Pine Street. That location, too, soon proved too small, and the library moved in 1954 to a location on South Ryan Street thanks to voters approving to increase the funding of our library system to 1.5 mills that year. [1]

In 1965, the need for more space moved headquarters to a site at the corner of Prien Lake Road and Center Street. Circulation jumped when the library moved to this location, and the city’s population had begun to spread into South Lake Charles. In 1974, the Lake Charles Public Library merged into the Calcasieu Parish Public Library system and was rechristened Carnegie Memorial Library. In 1977, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury purchased a 3.2-acre lot at the corner of Ernest and West Claude Streets for the location of the Central Library, nearby McNeese State University. Ground was broken for the Central Library in April 1983, and the library was completed in December 1984. [1]

Despite the new and larger building, the need for even more space quickly became apparent. In 1990, the Capital Improvement Program was approved thanks to voters approving our funding to 4.57 mills to renovate and expand our library locations. Between 1990 and 1995, all of our current 13 branch location were either renovated or constructed, including the current Central Library building, which was completed in 1995. Mrs. Lynda Carlberg was the Parish Librarian and Director of Calcasieu Parish Public Library during the 1990 Capital Improvement Project. [1]

There was an open house and dedication of the new Central Library on Sunday, October 8, 1995, with introductions from Mrs. Mary Frohm, the president of the Library Board of Control at the time, as well as an invocation and blessing from Reverend Herbert J. May. Special guests included Ray Campbell, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury; Mrs. Willie Landry Mount, then-Mayor of Lake Charles, 1993-1999; and Tom Jacques, State Librarian of the Louisiana State Library. Many community members and businesses also participated that afternoon in the Central Library Open House and celebration.

Also happening that day, the Thielen Room was dedicated to Mrs. Della Krause Thielen, who had served on the Library Board of Control from 1968 until her death in 1992. She had been the third generation of the Krause family to have served on the Library Board and had been awarded the prestigious Civic Service Award by the Chamber Southwest. The Thielen Room is still located upstairs at the Central Library, next to Administration offices, and is used by patrons and staff for meetings and events. [2]

In 2005, the City of Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury commissioned a statue and portrait relief of Dr. Michael DeBakey, M.D. (1908-2008). Born in Lake Charles to Lebanese immigrants, Dr. DeBakey was a prolific heart surgeon, scientist, inventor, educator, writer, WWII veteran, and trailblazer in the field of medicine. He led the movement to establish the United States National Library of Medicine, performed more than 60,000 cardiovascular procedures, and trained more than 1,000 surgeons who now practice throughout the world. Both the statue and the portrait relief were cast in bronze at a foundry, and they were created by the mother-daughter team, Janie LaCroix and Lindsey LaCroix-Peichl. The portrait relief and quote remain in the Central Library’s main lobby to this date, but the statue had been relocated to the Lake Charles Regional Airport following its restoration after Hurricane Rita. [3] [4]

Around this time, the DeBakey Room was dedicated in loving memory of Shaker Morris and Raheehja DeBakey, Dr. DeBakey’s parents who had immigrated from Lebanon. It said that he frequented the Carnegie Library location as a child (back when it was known as Lake Charles Public Library) and that it was one of his favorite places to go. Mike Dower, then-managing editor of The American Press, said, “Here’s a man who was educated in Lake Charles’ public school system, a graduate of Lake Charles High School. When parents look for role models, they can look at this man and see what he has accomplished.” [5]

Over the years, Central Library has hosted some of the largest programming events and presentations by numerous authors and entertainers. In 2018, Study Rooms were installed along the north side of the library’s interior for patron and staff use and received new carpet. In 2019, Central Library averaged 22,000 visitors each month. [6]

[link to branch page]

[1] Elizabeth Brame; Shirley Burwell; Susan Gerhart; Barbara Houssiere; Calcasieu Parish Public Library (1994). Calcasieu Parish Public Library System: An Information Leader for Half a Century [Brochure]. Published in Lake Charles, LA.
[2] Calcasieu Parish Public Library (1994). Calcasieu Parish Central Library 301 West Claude Street, Lake Charles, Louisiana: Dedication and Open House – Sunday, October 8, 1994 Two O’Clock [Pamplet]. Published in Lake Charles, LA.
[3] Comeaux, Christy; Calcasieu Parish Public Library (2005). Dr. Michael E. DeBakey: Installation of Portrait Sculpture and Portrait Relief, December 5, 2005 [Brochure]. Published in Lake Charles, LA
[4] Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Michael DeBakey: A Legacy of Excellence. Accessed 2021.
[5] Harper, Jeremy. (October 30, 2005). “Toasting a Legend: World-Renowned Heart Surgeon to be Honored in His Hometown.” The American Press. Article.aspx?href=AMP%2F2005%2F10%2F30&id=Ar01300&sk=918D6171&viewMode=text
[6] January 2018 – February 2020 People Counter records. 

DeQuincy Branch

The fourth branch in the Calcasieu Parish Public Library system opened April 6, 1944, in the Birch building, with Mrs. Louis Cruikshank as the first Branch Manager. A need for a new, larger building soon became apparent: the population of DeQuincy was growing, and with it, the library's circulation.

By the second year of operation, the library was circulating over 1,000 books per month.

In 1957, it moved to its new building at 102 West Harrison Street. Circulation continued to grow, and by 1970, it reached 2,000 books per month. Thanks to a passage of the Capital Improvement Bond Issue in 1989, the building was completely renovated. It was enlarged from 1,547 to 3,331 square feet, it housed 16,300 volumes, 42 magazine titles, and compact discs. And it circulated over 4,500 volumes per month. The renovation was completed in May, 1993. 

[link to branch page]

Epps Memorial Branch

Jhe Carver Branch Libra1y (nan1ed for scientist George Washington Carver) was opened in May, 1945 in the Powell Building at 301 Franklin Street in Lake Charles. It was the seventeenth library to be opened in the parish system, and the first specifically for the black community. Over 100 people registered for'library cards that first evening of operation.

Branch hours were Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Willie Mae Goosby was the first Branch Manager.

Titles checked out during Carver's first month of operation included Elizabeth Goudge's Green Dolphin Street and Ben Ames Williams' Leave Her To Heaven.

Carver proved to be a popular library, and by January 1952, it moved to larger quarters in a church on Enterprise Boulevard, and then in December, 1958, to a building of its own at 121 Enterprise. Segregation was abolished in.the· Calcasieu Parish Public Library System in January, 1954.

By October, 1968, Carver had once again outgrown its quarters, a11d a search was made for a more spacious building. The bookmobile from Caddo Parish was made available for use to its patrons during-this period of growth.

Land was located at 1324 N. Simmons Street, and in Febrary, 1976, the renamed Epps Memorial Library was opened for service. The new library was dedicated in memory of Rochelle Rigmaiden Epps, a longtime member of Lake Charles,Public Library Board and Consolidated Calcasieu Parish Public Library System Board.

Time and Hurricane Juan took their tolls, but the 1990 Capital Improvement Campaign enabled the parish to com­ pletely renovate the branch. Today, the Epps Memorial Library measures 3,775 square feet, and houses approximately 15,000 volumes and 75 magazine titles, as well as compact discs. Work was completed and the libraiy reopened in October, 1993.

Vinton Branch (formerly known as Fontenot Memorial Branch)

The history of the Fontenot Memorial Library in Vinton is unique. It began with the efforts of a dedicated group: the Vinton Literary Club. In 1919, Mrs. W. E. (Lina) Lundy and a group of women founded the Vinton Library Club-the first  free public library in Vinton. The original collection contained 35 volumes, and was housed in the back of Miss M. Carter's store. Over the years, the collection grew to 800 books, and was moved to a larger room once occupied by Delure Studio.

Different members of the club acted as librarian in turn, three evenings a week. Their efforts were recognized, and the Town Council and Masons begin paying the rent. The 1920s saw the card catalog system used by the club, and the library itself moved to the second floor of the Masonic building.

When the parish library system came into being, the Vinton Library Club sold their collection of 3,000-book, and renamed themselves the Vinton Literary Club. The Vinton Branch of the Calcasieu Parish Library System opened for service April 18, 1944.                               ·

In March 1954, the Vinton 'Branch Library was remodeled and enlarged, combining the Mas nic building and space used by a local store. But the library continued to grow, and more space was soon needed. In 1961, the City of Vinton gave a lot in the park area on Highway 90 at Horridge Street to·the library system. The new library was named in honor of the late Jimmy Lee Fontenot of Vinton. A strong library sup­ porter, Fontenot served on the Police Jury from June 1948 until his death in May 1962.

Library growth continued, and once again, more space was needed. This space would be provided by the 1990 Capital Improvement Program. Today, the Fontenot Memorial Library measures 2,735 square feet, and houses 12,500 volumes and 31 magazine titles, as well as books-on-tape and compact discs.

[link to branch page]

Hayes Branch

The Hayes Branch Library was opened April 10, 1944, the seventh libnuy to open in the system. It was located in Martin's Store, and Mrs. Emma Martin was the first Branch Manager. Library hours were Mondays and Thursdays, 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Mrs. J.C. Derouen checked out the first bocik after the ceremony: The Robe, by Lloyd Douglas.

From Martin's Store, the Hayes Branch Library moved to Derouen's Cafe, and then after a brief closing - to the Post Office, all in the space of four years. In September, 1948, the Hayes Post Office was located on the corner of Mississippi Street and Highway 14. The library filled a few shelves in the lobby. In the late 1950's, the Post Office (and hence, the libraiy) moved across the highway, The collection grew, and·a dividing wall had to be installed between the post office and library. Sepa­ rate entrances were installed. Finally, in 1979, the post office moved out, and the library filled the entire building.

As wonderful as the extra space was, though, bigger quarters were soon needed. The library moved to a former tenant house at 7709 Perier Street in 1986. But time and usage took its toll, and by 1989, the building was sadly in need of repair. That repair came courtesy of the Capital Improvement Program. Measuring 950 square feet, the Hayes Branch Library now houses approximately 6,000 volumes and 22 magazine titles, as well as compact discs. Work was completed and the library reopened in September, 1993.

[link to branch page]

Iowa Branch

The third branch in the Calcasieu Parish Public Library system opened April 6, 1944, in Iowa, Louisiana. The Iowa Branch Library hours were Mondays and Thursdays from 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM. Mrs. V. F. Stutsman was the first Branch Manager. The first book to be checked out at the Iowa Library was Epler’s Life of Clara Barton to Betty Jean Storer.

Over 470 books were checked out from the Iowa Branch Library during its first month of operation. Reference questions included “How long is the Moffit tunnel” and “I am interested in the marriage laws of Louisiana and Texas – can you get me material on this subject?” In July 1944, Lake Charles American Press reported that an Iowa boy built a radio using Fust Radio Book for Boys, a book he checked out from the Iowa Branch Library.

The library continued to grow and needed more spacious quarters. In October 1955, land was purchased on First Street for a new building. By October 1956, the new Iowa Branch Library was opened and was the first library-owned branch in Calcasieu Parish. The new address became 107 E First Street and is the location where the library still remains to this day.

As part of the 1993 Capital Improvement Program, the Iowa Branch Library was renovated. While remodeling was taking place, the library temporarily relocated to the Lion’s Club building on North Kinney. Its current location opened in December 1993 and measures 2,920 square feet. As of June 2021, 14,230 physical items are housed at the Iowa Branch Library.

In the future, Calcasieu Parish Public Library will expand the Iowa Branch Library to encompass the former Capitol One Bank Building (of which the library shares a parking lot with). After remodeling the space, it will be used for Programming and Meeting Spaces for Calcasieu Library staff and patrons. Currently, the former bank building is being used for library storage of furniture, equipment, and materials of displaced CPPL Departments following Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

[link to branch page]

Maplewood Branch

On November 29, 1944, the MapJewood Branch Library opened, the sixteenth library to open in the system. Though the collection was first housed on the ground floor of the Construction Office at Beauregard Avenue and Parish Road, it soon moved to a room in, the   Maplewood Baptist Church. Mrs. C. H. Chapman was the first librarian. Over 180 books were checked out its first evening of operation; the first was Sumner Wells' Time for Decision, checked Qut by Mr. W. H. Bradford. From the beginning, the Maplewood Branch Library was well-used by children. In 1945, the Maplewood Star reported that, during the library's first'seven months of circulation almost 100 more children had registered than adults. Juvenile readers had checked out over 1,000 more books than had the adult readers.

Growth made moving a necessity several times in the brary's history. In 1948, the Maplewood Housing Corporation allowed the library to use part of its main building. Later, the library moved to the Maplewood Shopping Center. Circulation grew steadily, making another move soon neces­ sary. The park and recreation area was deemed ideal, and in 1958, a new building was constructed at 91 Center Circle. The formal opeajng of the new Maplewood Branch Library was celebrated in June of that year.

The library enjoyed increased popularity through the years-with children and adults. Circulation continued to grow, and usage remained high, and by 1989, repairs were sorely needed. Repairs, renovations, and rebuilding were achieved through the Capital Improvement Program. The Maplewood Branch Library was enlarged from 1,721 to 3,331 square feet, and now houses approximately 12,500 volumes and 36 magazine titles, as well 5 books- n-tape, compact discs, and videotapes. Work was completed and the library reopened in November, 1993.

Closed on for 

[link to L2G page]

Moss Bluff Branch

The eighteenth - and last - branch of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System was opened in July, 1945 in McMillian's store in Moss Bluff. Mrs. Evelyn Baxter was the first Branch Manager. The collection boasted 250 volumes, and the library was open four hours a week: Tuesdays and Fridays, 3:00 prh until 5:00 pm. Slowly and steadily, the Moss Bluff Branch Library grew. By the end of its first decade, a new building became necessary. It was provided by J. L. Rollings in December, 1957, when he constructed a new library building next to his grocery store on the west side of Highway 171. At that time, library hours were also increased to ten a week: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. More growth followed.

Because of space needs, the library eventually had to move into the Lakeside Bank Building, and then, in December, 1976 to new building on the west side of Moss Bluff Super­ market at the corner of Highway 378 and Bruce Circle. But by 1989, again, more space was needed. Thanks to the Capital Improvement Program, the Moss Bluff Branch Library was the fourth largest library in the parish, measuring 11,528 square feet on almost two acres of land. The library opened with more than 50 hours a week, and had a collection of over 20,000 volumes and 56 magazine titles, as well as compact discs, videotapes, and books-on-tape. Work was completed and the library reopened i.n September, 1993. 

[link to branch page]

Southwest Genealogical & Historical Branch

The Southwest Louisiana (SWLA) Genealogical & Historical Library collection had its beginning in the Lake Charles Public Library during the 1960's. Mary Louise Giraud was the first librarian to acquire books and micro°filmed census records readers, and printers for those patrons interested in genealogy. By June, 1974, the collection had grown to include 150 classified titles and eight periodicals. The study of genealogy was rapidly becoming popular in the area. As a public interest projedin 1973, the Lake,Charles Public Library held a genealogy workshop.

To the delight of librarians and staff, the overflow crowd that attended decided to organize a genealogy group. This was the birth of the SWLA Genealogical Society. The Society has been a strong force in the development of the SWLA Genealogical Library as it is today. Through donations'and workshops, recommendations and suggestions, the Society has helped to form policies and achieve a library outstanqing in the field of genealogical research, unique to Southwest Louisiana. 

Once a shelf in the main branch of the library, the genealogy collection moved to its own book cart, then its own room, and finally, to the Carnegie Memorial Library building, a setting well in keeping with the library's historic significance. As records and funding have become available books indexes, microfilm, and readers have been added to the collection. The SWLA Genealogical Library had approximately 4,000 books and 2,000 reels of microfilm, five microfilm readers, two microfiche readers, and a new Minolta copier for fiche or film.

Whether patrons wanted to search for lost ancestors, relatives military buddies, or dassmates; to find the history of an organization or of a house; or to study the beginnings of a town, they could find what they are looking for safely catalogued in the SWLA Genealogical Library.

[link to branch page]

Starks Branch

The Starks Branch Library was opened April 13, 1944, in George A. Ristom’s store and was the eighth library to open in the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System. George Ristom was a Syrian immigrant who had served in World War I and II. Mrs. Odes Poole was the first Branch Manager, and the first books were circulated the first hour of operation. Edith Doiron and Paul Lyles had checked out the first two books. Doiron selected Alcott’s Rose in Bloom, while Lyles chose Balch’s Indian Paint. The branch was open Mondays and Thursday, 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM.

By the end of its first month of operation, the Starks Branch Library had circulated 745 volumes. Due to special constraints and other considerations, the library had to move from its rent-tree location to a rent-required building owned by Odes Poole in January 1946.

The Starks Branch Library grew steadily over the years. A thriving Friends of the Library chapter was established in the town, and children’s story hours became a well-attended weekly event.

Like the rest of the parish libraries, however, the Starks Branch Library’s collections outgrew its shelf-space, and a new location was needed. In June 1985, a new building was purchased from the American Bank of Commerce. At 1,500 square feet, the new location more than doubled the library’s then - current footage and would become the location it remains to this day.

The 1990 Capital Improvement Program provided the Starks Branch Library with a complete renovation and expanded its square footage to 1,700. The size of its collection was increased to 12,500 volumes and 30 magazine titles, as well as books-on-tape, and videotapes. In October 1993, the new and improved Starks Library was dedicated to the people of its community.[1]

As of 2021, Starks Library is home to public computers, Wi-Fi, printing, and faxing services and remains a community hub for information and free events.

[link to branch page]

[1] Elizabeth Brame; Shirley Burwell; Susan Gerhart; Barbara Houssiere; Calcasieu Parish Public Library (1994). Calcasieu Parish Public Library System: An Information Leader for Half a Century [Brochure]. Published in Lake Charles, LA.

Sulphur Regional Branch

'It is our library and we must use it, "R. W. Human, president of the Sulphur Lions Club, told the crowd gathered at theopening of the Sulphur Branch Library April 4, 1944. DaveDugas, police juror, also urged the crowd to take advantage of their new facility.           ·

The city took his words to heart. By the end of its first month, the Sulphur Branch  Library had circulated almost 3,000 bpoks. Miss Dixie Tarver was the first Branch Manager. The library was located in small cafe on Napoleon Street downtown between Saunier Hardware and the Gulf Filling Station. The library later relocated to Irwin Street, while larger building was constructed on Ash at Sycamore.The new Ash Street building opened in November, 1960, sporting a new flag pole donated by the Henry family.

The Sulphur Friends of the Library organized in 1984. From its inception, the group has maintained an perpetual book sale, and,provided the library with many "extras"- new tables, stools, and bulletin boards-that the operating budget could not cover.

By 1989, the Sulphur Branch Library had once again outgrown its building, so - thanks to the Capital Improvement Program in February, 1992, construction began on a new site. The new Sulphur Regional Library measured over 21,000 square feet, and houses over 90,000 books and 250 magazine titles, as well asbooks-on-tape, videotapes, and compact discs, and serves as a reference resource library for all ofwest Calcasieu Parish. In the lobby, patrons are greeted by a unique brick sculpture by artist Paula Collins depicting life in Calcasieu Parish.

A typical day saw more than 1,000 items checked out from the Sulphur Regional Library. As in 1944, the citizens of Sulphur were heeding the words of their civic leaders, and used their new facility.

[link to branch page]

Westlake Branch

The fifth library in the system was opened in Westlake on April 6, 1944. Mrs. J. A. Clanton was the first Branch Manag­ er. Located in the north wing of the Lake Theater on Miller Avenue, the Westlake Branch Library was open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2:00 pm until 7:00 pm. Miss Marie Johnson checked out the first book: Miller's Next To My Heart.

The Westlake Branch Library enjoyed strong community support from the beginning. At the opening ceremonies, Wilson Tanner of the Westlake Chamber of Commerce called the library "an asset to this community." After its first month of operation, the library boasted a circulation of 790 books, and by the end of its second month, 1,256 books.

By April, 1949, the Westlake Branch Library had outgrown its location next to the theater, and moved into a building shared with Westlake City Hall. The library continued to grow, and by December, 1966, needed a building of its own. In March, 1967, the Westlake Branch Library as housed in a brand-new building, located at 901 Shady Lane. A generous donation given in the memory of Rudolph E. Krause by his daughters, Mrs. William D. Blake and Mrs. Jack E. Thielen, made it possible for the parish to purchase the Westlake Branch Library building.

By 1989, the Westlake Branch Library had once·again outgrown its building. The Capital Improvement Program permitted the purchase of nearly three acres of land at 937 Mulberry Street and the construction of a new building.' The new Westlake Branch Library measures 6,012 square feet and houses approximately 15,800 volumes and 52 magazine titles, as well as compact discs, videotapes and books-on-tape. Work was completed and the library reopened in December, 1993.

[link to branch page]