Louisiana Public Library


The mission of Louisiana Public Library is to offer the residents of Pike County opportunities to engage in educational and entertainment activities that enhance and enrich their lives. Louisiana Public Library endeavors to provide a well-managed, varied collection; contemporary, quality programs and services; effective, courteous customer service; and safe, inviting facilities


A book store proprietor’s belief that people should have access to a free public library coupled with a wealthy industrialist’s money resulted in the Louisiana Public Library,

The bookstore proprietor was Miss Anna Draper, who might be called the mother of the Louisiana Library.: The industrialist was Andrew Carnegie, who made millions in steel and then proceeded to give millions away, at first in person, and then through the Carnegie foundation.

In 1903, Miss Anna Draper and her parents ran a Louisiana bookstore, and although a free library would be something of a competition to her business, Miss Draper believed that was what the community needed. She called together W. P. Stark, Isadore Michael and A.J. Murphy, Sr., and found them be to kindred spirits. At first it was this group’s thought that they should rent a single room someplace downtown and keep a modest collection of books therein.

However, before these plans were put into action, Mr. Murphy noticed an item in the paper which told how an eastern industrialist, Andrew Carnegie, was providing money for the construction of libraries in some communities. He wrote to Mr. Carnegie for the construction of libraries in some communities. He wrote to Mr. Carnegie explaining the local situation and the philanthropist replied at once he would provide maintenance tax on the books to insure the library’s upkeep.

A one-half mill tax levy was voted and this proved sufficient for the early years of the library’s history

A residential neighborhood’s dislike at having a livery stable in their midst resulted in the library being where it is today. About half a dozen sites were debated when the committee hit upon the idea of holding an election to see which one was the most popular. Voters marked their ballots with the understanding that if their favorite site won, they would have to pay one dollar for each vote which they had cast. This money would be used in buying the site.

One of the proposed locations was the corner of Third and Tennessee. In 1904, a livery stable stood there in what was then becoming a fashionable residential area. Jumping at the chance to rid themselves of the stable, area residents joined forces and cast 3100 Votes for that site which cost them $3100.00 when it was declared the winner. So the story goes, two ladies who lived in the houses across Third Street from the proposed library site contributed large sums of money for the Third and Tennessee site because the smell from the livery stable offended them. The livery stable operation sold out for $3100.00

On March 23, 1904, excavation started on the 40 by 60 foot library to be built of Louisiana limestone. The unique architectural design is the only Romanesque structure in Louisiana and was among the first ten Carnegie libraries built in the state of Missouri.

Wednesday, May 4th, 1904, was the big day of the cornerstone laying. The Masons had charge of the afternoon ceremony. Park’s band led the marching masons from their temple on Main Street to the library. To Miss Draper felt the honor of placing the metallic box containing documents and papers in the cornerstone.

On January 16th, 1905, the library was opened to the public and was formally dedicated on Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1905. 

in 1992, the property south of the library was purchased for future expansion. The library was nominated and accepted into the prestigious list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

The updating and expansion of facilities became a reality in 1996 with a voted tax increase to provide compliance with ADA, requirements, expansion of parking area, and who bestowed $50,000.00 to be matched by $25,000.00 from other community donations allowed these improvements to be completed.

On November 22, 1998 the groundbreaking ceremony was held for the 25000 square foot, 30 by 40, foot addition. The new audition includes a children’s area, computer center, additional shelving, and a new entrance which is handicap accessible and provides access to the main and lower levels of the library. The interior and exterior of the library primarily remains the same today as when it was built.

On April 29th, 2000, an open house was celebrated to show the results of the combined efforts of many dedicated individuals who carried on the vision held by the “Mother of the Louisiana library”.

When the Louisiana Public Library was dedicated and presented to the City of Louisiana in 1904, Mayor Charles M. Davis, in his acceptance speech, promised, “The library will be conducted for the benefit of all the people with equal rights for all and special privileges for none.” the present Louisiana public library remains dedicated to this aim.

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