Jefferson Davis Parish Public Library

Our History

THE HISTORY OF Jefferson Davis Parish Library

In 1967, Jefferson Davis Parish became the last of Louisiana’s 64 parishes to be approved for the establishment of the Jefferson Davis Parish Demonstration Library. This library, funded by the state and located in Jennings, would eventually include surrounding towns (some of which had individual library systems already established).

The first parish library was located at 526 North Main Street in Jennings, opening its doors on October 26, 1968. This demonstration library was successful and the parish assumed total responsibility for it the following year, assessing a millage of 2 and ½ mills. JDPL continues to be funded by a millage.

“With so much of the pulse of the community already invested in every nook and cranny of these walls, it is appropriate that other steps will trek into the building for the best reason of all—to learn, to enjoy, to widen horizons.”

Vivian Mayes Smith, Jennings Daily News, 1980
THE HISTORY OF JENNINGS LIBRARY

The Jennings Library is currently housed in what was originally the old post office, constructed in 1914.

This building remained a post office until 1976. On March 23, 1977, the old post office was purchased by the Jefferson Davis Parish Police Jury at a price of $60,000. Renovations began in 1979, amounting to $100,000, and the library opened its doors at this location on September 10, 1980. In 1982, the Jennings Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Renovations were completed in 2014 and again in 2019, but many of the original features remain, including the cypress and tile floors and much of the woodwork.

Elton is home to the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. At one time the Elton Library had a library club called the Em-Mok-La (meaning “friends”). Though no longer active, this club was organized for the purpose of supporting and promoting activities for the betterment of the Elton community and played an important role in shaping Elton Library’s history.

THE HISTORY OF Elton Library

The first library in Elton dates back to 1927 and was located on North Main Street.

Mrs. Day Farley served as the first Librarian. The current library opened its doors on September 18, 2006, with land being donated by American Bank in memory of Harold J. Callis, Chairman of Community Bancorp of Louisiana, Inc.

Lake Arthur Library 1971
THE HISTORY OF Lake Arthur Library

In 1952 the Lake Arthur Library Club began building a fund to use for a library and meeting house.

Through hard work and dedication, sixteen years later the old city hall was converted into Lake Arthur’s first parish library in 1968. The building was leased from the town and renovations cost $13,000. The “new” library included a meeting and reading room, as well as central heating and air conditioning.

The current Lake Arthur building opened its doors in 2006. 

The Library Club had some creative ways of raising money for the 1968 library—everything from cake sales to style shows to a highly successful Community Calendar (which continues to this day).

THE HISTORY OF WELSH MCBURNEY LIBRARY

The Welsh Public Library began in 1929 when a group of dedicated citizens passed a tax to support the creation of a free public library for the citizens of Welsh.

A library board was created and the Welsh library opened on February 25, 1930. The state Library Commission loaned 500 volumes to the Welsh City Hall to serve as Welsh’s first public and free library. A fund was set up to pay librarian Ms. Irene Kimball and to purchase books.

In 1959, the library moved to the old home economics building. In 1968, The Welsh Library became a part of the Parish Library System. Land was donated by the Town of Welsh and Mrs. A.R. McBurney donated 40% of the building funds in honor of her late husband and her son Dr. William McBurney. The McBurney Memorial Library opened in 1973 on the corner of Sarah and Hudspeth, with plans to connect the building to a future Welsh Civic Center. The civic center did not happen, but the McBurney Library remains at this location and was renovated in 2010.

“City Hall was a beautiful massive building set in the middle of the location of the present police and fire station. I vividly remember walking into the City Hall to the back of the building where the books were kept. I remember the smell of the room like it was yesterday.”

Dr. Linda Lebert-Corbello
THE HISTORY OF the bookmobile
Over the past 30 years, JDPL has gone through several bookmobiles but our dedication to serving our most remote patrons has not changed. Current bookmobile routes provide library materials and programs for residents of Topsy, Fenton, Lacassine, and Raymond.
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