History of the Library
The St. Mary Parish Library was legally established by the Police Jury under Act 36 of 1926 in April 1949 as a demonstration library. The first Librarian was Ann K. Batson with Miss Virginia Shannon as Assistant. Batson was a graduate of Louisiana State University School of Library Science, and Shannon was a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana College at Hammond with a minor in Library Science.
Several Directors have served since 1953: Ann K. Batson, Mary Ellen Janowski, Ruby Moser, Goldie G. Cogdell Montgomery, Lola Thompson, Charles Harrington, Ron Turney, Cheryll Braud, Carolyn Langlinais, Cheryl Cooper, Kathleen Prados, and Julie Culler. The current Director is Ashton Myers.
The first Library Board of Control was appointed by the Police Jury as follows: Don T. Caffrey, President; Elizabeth Pharr, Vice-President; R.A. LeBlanc, Treasurer; Alex P. Allain; Clarence Baughman; and Mr. D.C. Walsh, Police Jury President and Ex-Officio Member of the Board.
A two-mill property tax was passed by the voters in June 1954, allowing St. Mary Parish Library to become a locally supported library for the 1955 calendar year.
The first operated libraries in the system were Berwick, Bunche, and Franklin. Since 1953, the following branches were opened in the coming years: Berwick, Patterson, West End, Amelia, and Centerville. The Bunche Library closed permanently in 1992.
Upon its opening, St. Mary Parish Library had a bookmobile that carried 1,200 books and 20 magazines. It followed five to six bookmobile routes, and on these routes, the bookmobile provided books to the furthermost areas of our parish, stopping near homes, schools, and local community centers.
In 2010, the Board of Control began the renovation of the Alex P. Allain Memorial Library. Renovations were completed in 2012. The library interior was enhanced to provide improved public access to public library materials. In 2020, renovations for the Berwick Branch began with the project being completed in 2023. Some of the updated features of the library included a meeting room, a private study room, wireless charging stations, and a drive-through station.
St. Mary Parish Library updated its Outreach Services efforts in 2023 by appointing Deborah Box as Outreach Coordinator, Charlene Loston as Outreach Clerk, and Lydia Phillips as Outreach Clerk. The outreach services of the Outreach Services team extend throughout the entire St. Mary Parish Library by providing quality books, programs, and other services to improve the community outside of the traditional library environment.