Henry L. Aulds, Jr. Branch Library - The Silver Lining of a Family’s Tragic Loss

The Bossier Parish Library’s South Bossier branch still has a small-town or neighborhood feel, but it has grown tremendously since it opened in the Shady Grove neighborhood in 1971 with 1, 200 square feet of space, with the limited hours of 2-6pm Mon -Friday. The branch opened in October, 1971 on land donated by Bossier City and was named in memory of Henry L. Aulds, Jr., a Bossier Parish Police Juror, whose efforts were instrumental in its existence.

Aulds died suddenly in September, 1970, at the age of 42, suffering a heart attack while on a dove hunting trip. He lived in the Shady Grove neighborhood on the same street as the library. He was owner of an investment company and served on many boards, including the YMCA and the recreation commission of Bossier. His wife, Betty, served as the “toybrarian” for the Toy Lending library at the Shady Grove community center.

Betty Aulds welcomed guests to the dedication of the new library, including extended family members, police jurors supporting their former colleague, and other Bossier Parish officials, plus guest of honor Miss Elisabeth Williams, the first librarian in the Bossier Parish Library System, and 400 other citizens. She stated, “We, the family and children, are so pleased to see the library for which my husband worked so hard a reality now. We hope the library will mean as much to the community as Mr. Aulds had hoped it would. He saw the need and wanted to make it happen. We are happy that even though he can’t see the results, the people of this area have been so responsive...”

Well-known Bossier citizen and longtime Clerk of Court Wilna Mabry concurred, “The new library is a wonderful thing for this part of Bossier City. In talking with residents of the area, I’ve found that everyone is so happy that the library is here. The library couldn’t have been named for a greater man.”

The Henry L. Aulds, Jr. library fulfilled its namesake’s wish that it would become a meaningful part of the community. It has served as the meeting spot for numerous community groups over the years, including “The Shady Ladies” homemaking club, the British Wives club (since the library is conveniently located close to Barksdale Air Force Base), and a local Girl Scout troop. The Aulds meeting room is also a voting location. The branch had enough use, that it was renovated and expanded in 1987, less than 20 years from its opening.

In 1991, the Aulds branch library had the distinction of being the first Bossier Parish library to have a personal computer available for patron use, thanks to the perseverance of Bossier Parish Libraries patron and Barksdale airman Staff Sgt. David Lambert and the forward-thinking Aulds branch librarian, Bonnie Clark. Lambert, who happened to be an information systems manager at Barksdale, had gone to the Bossier Central library to do some research when he found out there were no public use computers available there or in any Bossier Parish public library. When Lambert was told there was no money in the budget for them, he asked around to find a librarian who would be willing to try out a PC for public use. He found Ms. Bonnie at Aulds.

Then Lambert asked around for some donations. Donald Bonar of Shreve Systems in Bossier City donated a surplus Commodore “Colt” computer with both a hard drive and a floppy disk drive. The CPU and a dot matrix printer were donated by Francis Huhn and software donated from Keith Barr. The viewing screen, printer cable and controller for the hard drive came from Discount Computers and Software in Shreveport. The computer boasted Microsoft Works software and GW Basic for those who wanted to learn to how to program. In August 1991, Lambert was still looking for donations for additional software.

Patrons needed to bring their own 5¼” floppy disks if they wanted to save their work. Lambert and the Aulds library staff planned to have other computer workers from base to help out with maintaining the equipment and conducting classes in how to use the computer. Bonnie Clark the librarian foresaw the only drawback of the computer would be that very soon, one would not be enough!

Ms. Bonnie was right of course. In September, 2005, Aulds had an expansion and interior renovation so extensive that it felt like a new branch had opened. This expansion nearly doubled the library’s public service space with a 3,8000 square foot addition, and quadrupled the number of public access computers, as well tripled the children’s area. What Ms. Elisabeth Williams, the Bossier Parish Library system’s first librarian, said at the first dedication for the branch in 1971, could’ve been said at the branch’s re-dedication following the addition in 2005 and could be said again today: “It is wonderful that the library system is growing. Bossier Parish is growing and so is Bossier City.”


If you have any stories, photos or other information relating to the history of Bossier Parish libraries, or of Bossier Parish citizens who have worked to contribute to community life in Bossier, the History Center may be interested in adding the materials to its research collection by donation or by scanning them and returning the originals. Call or visit us to learn more. We are open M-Th 9-8, Fri 9-6, and Sat 9-5. Our phone number is (318) 746-7717 and our email is history-center@bossierlibrary.org. We can also be found online at https://www.facebook.com/BPLHistoryCenter/

Article by: Pam Carlisle