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History of Bossier Parish Library
The Bossier Parish Library System was first discussed by the PTA of Bossier High School in 1940 and the Bossier Parish Police Jury approved the formation of the Library on a “demonstration” basis. This was funded by the State Library of Louisiana for one year. At the end of that year, the Police Jury approved the library on a permanent basis with the passage of a one-half millage sustaining tax in June of 1941. The first branches were located in Bossier City, Haughton, Plain Dealing and the parish seat, Benton. The agreement reached between the Parish and the State Library was for the State Library to furnish all books in the Parish Library’s possession, as well as with a bookmobile and other equipment. The Parish tax was used to maintain and expand library services.
H.L. Aulds Branch – Bossier City donated a tract of land in the Shady Grove subdivision in 1970 for a new branch library. The branch opened in 1971 and was named in honor of Henry L. Aulds, Jr., a former Bossier Parish Police Juror, whose efforts were instrumental in the opening of this south Bossier Parish branch library. The Aulds branch saw renovations and expansions completed in both 1987 and 2004.
Benton Branch – Located in the parish seat, the Benton library opened in 1940, serving as the main Bossier Parish Library headquarters. Parish librarian Elisabeth Williams, who served as parish librarian from 1940 until her retirement in 1967, worked from the Benton library. In 1959, the Benton library moved from its original building, which was the old post office, to more modern quarters down the street. This location proved to be too small when library usage increased in the late 1980s, so the building was expanded in 1987 to provide a dedicated children’s area. A new Benton Branch was constructed and opened in 2006.
Bossier Central – The Bossier City Library Branch, another of the original three Bossier Parish Library branches, opened in 1941 at the old City Hall building on Barksdale Boulevard. The library moved into a neighboring building in 1953, before relocating to a Benton Road location in 1959. This Benton Road location doubled in size with a 1967 expansion. A remodel in 1988 resulted in the current library facility facing Beckett Street.
East 80 Branch – The East 80 Branch opened on Bellevue Road in 1987 to serve the growing population of the east side of Bossier Parish. It was the first public library in Louisiana to be fully computerized. This branch was renovated and expanded in 2005.
Dorothy Elston Alford Memorial Haughton Branch – Haughton was home to one of the initial three Bossier Parish Library branches. The library moved into the Haughton Masonic building in 1949. In 1970, the village of Haughton donated land and $5,000 toward the construction of a new library building. The new building housed both the library and the town hall. More space was needed for both facilities and the library expanded into the town hall portion of the building in 1987. A new town hall was constructed next door, not attached to the library. After this remodel, the Haughton library was dedicated and renamed the “Dorothy Elston Alford Memorial Haughton Branch.” Mrs. Alford served as the Haughton branch librarian for 19 years. It was again renovated and expanded in 2001.
Historical Center – In the early 1960s, the Bossier Parish Library announced plans to compile a collection of photographs, scrapbooks, and other information related to the history of the parish. These items were indexed and kept at the Bossier City branch. A dedicated history center opened in 1998, directly behind the Central Branch on Beckett Street. The building features large exhibit spaces and a storage room for archival material.
Rita Sanders Keoun Memorial Plain Dealing Branch – The Plain Dealing branch was one of the original three branches of Bossier Parish Library, opening within the town hall in 1940. The Police Jury approved the construction of a new building that opened in 1959. A children’s area and preschool activity center were added during a 1987 expansion, along with the doubling in size of the public service space. In 1991, the library was renamed the “Rita Sanders Keoun Memorial Plain Dealing Branch” in honor of her over 40 years on the Bossier Parish Library Board of Control. The Plain Dealing Branch was renovated and expanded in 2003, almost tripling its square footage. Plain Dealing native Katie Lusk Allen and her husband, Curtis Allen, donated the property for the expansion in memory of the Arthur Clyde Lusk, Sr. family. Along with additional space for library services, the expansion allowed for exhibit spaces showcasing Bossier Parish history.
Anna P. Tooke Memorial Library – The former Koran Branch was originally a grounded State Library bookmobile and opened in 1977 on land provided by Bossier Rural Electric Corporation. A mobile building replaced the bookmobile in 1987. In 2012, land was donated to the Library by the grandchildren of Anna P. Tooke and a beautiful new library named in her honor, along with a playground and walking path, was constructed for the Koran and Elm Grove communities in 2014. The branch opened to the public in Spring 2015.
LOCATIONS/SERVICES NO LONGER IN PLACE:
Bookmobile – The bookmobile served as a supplement to the 4 library locations, bringing books into the rural areas of our community. Bookmobile service began in 1940. In 1952, the parish bookmobile had 61 stops to make every two weeks. In 1968, the bookmobile was discontinued due to mechanical problems.
Elm Grove branch – A Bossier Parish Library branch opened in Elm Grove in late 1940. It was located in the kindergarten room of Elm Grove School.
Community Center branch – In 1942, the Community Center branch of the Bossier Parish Library opened in the Garr drug store at Benton Road and Highway 80.
Red River Parish libraries – In 1963, Red River Parish and Bossier Parish libraries entered into an agreement, pooling their resources for the benefit of the patrons in both parishes. Elisabeth Williams founded the Red River Parish Library and administered the two-parish system until her 1967 retirement. In 1967, a merger between Bossier-Red River Parish Libraries and Webster-Bienville Parish Libraries was proposed.
Information credit: Bossier Parish Library Historical Center archives