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The Lake Charles Public 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 land at the corner of Pujo and Bilbo Street, provided that Andrew Carnegie would donate $10,000 for a building, and the city would appropriate not less than $1,000 annually for maintenance.

By March 1904, the Carnegie Memorial Library was open to the public, serving a population of 5,000 with a collection of 706 volumes. 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.

Hurricanes and time-weathered the library, and in 1949, a bond issue was passed by the citizens of Lake Charles to build a new one. After three years of construction, the present Carnegie Memorial Library opened to the public on March 14, 1952. The library was called the "Lake Charles 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. 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 on whether they wanted a public library system to remain in the parish. Miss Sallie Farrell was appointed as the first Parish Librarian of Calcasieu Parish. Headquarters for the system would be in Lake Charles, at Kirby and Hodges Streets, with branches located in municipalities throughout the parish.

On April 4, 1973, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury passed Ordinance #1442, effecting the consolidation of the Lake Charles Public Library and the Calcasieu Parish Public Library. On August 1, 1973, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury authorized its president to enter into a joint services agreement with the City of Lake Charles with respect to the number of members of the library board and their means of selection. The consolidation of the two library systems was effective January 1, 1974.

On January 20, 1990, the voters of Calcasieu Parish voted to renew the library's millage and increase the millage to 4.57. Also approved that day was a $12 million bond issue for the expansion and renovation of all thirteen branches of the library system. Total square footage increased from 51,542 to 115,586.

COMING SOON: Updated history for all of our branches

picture of former director, Lynda Mills Carlberg

When visiting the Central Library, have you seen this portrait on the second floor near the DeBakey Community Room? Who is this person? Or maybe you've seen a sculpture sitting in the garden area on the North side of the building? What is the sculpture's purpose?

Lynda M. Carlberg was the director of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library System from 1978 to 1997. Leaving a legacy of professional excellence on every level, her tenure as director was marked by many achievements, the most notable being the passage of a twelve million dollar capital improvement bond that provided for the building or remodeling of all thirteen libraries in the parish. She has been memorialized by the presentation to the public of a garden and sculpture, located on the north side of the Central Library. The Library Board of Trustees established a Certificate of Merit in her name, recognizing a Calcasieu Parish Public Library staff member for outstanding service “In recognition of exemplary contributions to Calcasieu Parish Public Library and its patrons.” The Lynda Mills Carlberg Service Award recognizes a Calcasieu Parish Public Library staff member for outstanding service to the library. Twelve recipients have been recognized since 1998.