The library will soon have two locations to serve you. The Main Branch is located in Port Allen and the South Branch will be located in Brusly.
In the Beginning…
The West Baton Rouge Garden and Civic Club began the first public library in 1933 on the second floor of the third courthouse with the purchase of two books on gardening and 343 books collected in a door-to-door drive by members. In 1959, after the fourth West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse had been completed, the remains of the third parish courthouse, which had been the annex for the court records, was renovated to serve as the new parish library. The first person to register as a patron of the West Baton Rouge Library was L. C. Bourgeois of Cinclare. The club continued to have fund-raisers for the library until a space for the parish library was opened. In 1969 the State Library helped to establish the West Baton Rouge Parish Library as a demonstration library. The library opened in a rented storefront at the corner of Jefferson and California streets with books donated from the community. Fran Cole was hired as the first library director. She oversaw the construction of a modern, 10,000-square-foot facility on North Alexander, which opened in 1976. The library is funded by a property mill tax.
Members of the West Baton Rouge Garden and Civic Club believed that a broader understanding of the history of the parish would benefit students and adults as well. They had helped establish the Heroes Plaza memorial to the military and civil servants from West Baton Rouge Parish. They also formed the West Baton Rouge Historical Association to preserve West Baton Rouge Parish history, historic places, customs, and traditional culture. The West Baton Rouge Historical Association was conceived by Ethel Claiborne Dameron. The founders of the association, seven dedicated women, met for the first time on June 17, 1968, at the Port Allen home of Dameron. The association’s mission was and still is directed toward promoting an interest in history, especially that of West Baton Rouge Parish. The Historical Association has spearheaded the installation and dedication of historical markers throughout the parish to document historical places and events. For the benefit of the parish and surrounding communities, they also established the West Baton Rouge Museum in 1968 and opened it to the public in 1970.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Library is funded by a property mill tax. In 2003 approximately 70 percent of the parish population were registered borrowers, a statistic that few libraries anywhere can match. Other parishes had less than 30 percent. Funding and planning was administered by an eight-member library board of control.
Property taxes fund other social services for the parish, such as the community centers and parks, the library, the museum, the health unit, and the council on aging.
West Baton Rouge Parish’s strong community involvement is represented by the multiple civic organizations that aid citizens and work to improve the parish’s quality of life. Keep West Baton Rouge Beautiful, a Louisiana Affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, is one among many that continues to provide positive community programs related to litter prevention, waste reduction and recycling and beautification and community gardening. Well-known civic organizations such as the Ladies Auxiliary of the McKinley Bourg American Legion Post 160 in Port Allen were founded as early as the 1930s and still serve the community. As of 2010, a few, but not all, of the other important civic organizations included American Legion Post 160, Blazing Star Masonic Lodge, Brusly High School Band Booster Club, Brusly Lions Club, Civic League of Addis, Port Allen Lions Club, Port Allen Rotary Club, Stone Square Lodge #8, V.F.W. Auxiliary Post, West Baton Rouge Genealogy Society, West Baton Rouge Historical Association, West Baton Rouge Knights of Columbus #2875 and #10744, West Baton Rouge Senior Spirit, West Side Women’s Club, and the West Baton Rouge Garden and Civic Club.
In 1968, the West Baton Rouge Historical Association appeared before the Policy Jury, requesting use of the old Library building for a museum. The Police Jury made a resolution to allow the Association to use the former library site for what is now the West Baton Rouge Parish Museum.
On February 1, 1976, the new Library was opened at 830 North Alexander Avenue.
Mobile Library and Other Facility Enhancements
In 2005, the Library added a new state-of-the-art “mobile” Library to serve their patrons and reached out to serve their customers with a new website.
In July 2006, a grant from Dow Chemical allowed the Library to add a “reading pavilion” gazebo to the south side of Heroes Plaza.
Programs and Mission
Throughout the years, the Library has continued its mission to provide education, information, and recreation by offering programs for people of all ages. Some of the programs include: Annual Spring Art Show, Celebrating Louisiana Writers, Black History Month, Annual Gardening, Summer Reading & Programs, Ready to Read for Babies & Toddlers, Mobile Library Outreach services, Live Homework Help Online Tutoring, Community Family Time, POP (Preschool Outreach Pouches), and Prime Time Family Reading Time.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Public Library began in 1933 with two purchased books and 343 donated ones. In 1969 it moved from the courthouse to this storefront on the corner of Jefferson and California streets.
The Library maintains a wealth of additional historical information about the history of the Library and West Baton Rouge Parish. Visit us today to learn more!
- Phillips, F. (2012). The History of West Baton Rouge Parish: People, Places, Progress. The West Baton Rouge Historical Association.
- Hendry, G. (2012). Puffy’s Legacy: A Southern Lady’s Story. Xilbris Corporation.
What does the library mean to me?
A data center for information technology… A place to take care of business… A location for literature and thought… A port of departure for voyages of the mind… A gathering point for patrons… A focus for friends… A good book reading nook… A hub for our community. Come in and let us greet and serve you today!
-Luis Interiano, Adult Services Librarian
Tamie Martin, Director
Tamie Martin became Director of the West Baton Rouge Parish Library in 2019. She earned her Master’s of Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2010. Before coming to West Baton Rouge, she worked in another Louisiana library for over 16 years. Tamie is a firm believer in Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science:
- Books are for use.
- Every reader his or her book.
- Every book its reader.
- Save the time of the reader.
- A library is a growing organism.
As such, Tamie hopes to implement these laws to the benefit of West Baton Rouge Parish.
The West Baton Rouge Parish Library offers over 80,000 items including books, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, books on CD, and digital items for download.
In addition, various services are offered, including but not limited to:
- Free computer use
- Free Wi-Fi
- Printing in black and white, or color (See fees)
- Faxing services (See fees)
- Copying services in black and white or color (See fees)
- Various programs for adults, teens and children (See Events and Programs by Age Group)
- A public meeting room is available by reservation (See Meeting Room)
Beyond materials and services, we strive to reach the community! The library Bookmobile and Home Delivery services are available to bring materials to our patrons throughout the community, whether at schools or community stops.
If you are a patron and would like the library to consider offering additional materials, services or programs, please contact us today!
What's the Library Worth to You?
Statistics: January - November 2020
Special Guest Storytime with Local Author, Ila Belona
Join us for an engaging storytime with local author, Ila Belona. She is a local homeschool mother who enjoys singing, dancing, cooking, and traveling. Her books are available on Amazon. She will have a fun craft activity afterward. Recommended for ages 4-8 years old
March 2, 2024 @ 11:00 AM @ West Baton Rouge Parish Library
March 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th
April 2nd, 9th, 16th 23rd, and 30th
May 14th and 21st
March 5, 2024 @ 10:00 AM @ West Baton Rouge Parish Library