The Ouachita Parish Public Library will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Carver-McDonald Branch at 3:30 p.m. February 1 with a birthday party complete with cake, ice cream, and books.
“We are so excited to honor the men and women who were essential in the creation of this branch, as well as the community it serves today,” said OPPL Director Robin Toms.
The branch first opened in 1948 after a request from the Colored Chamber of Commerce to OPPL, as the library system at the time was not integrated. Library services were first offered to African-Americans out of Carroll Auditorium. According to a 1949 Monroe News-Star article, more than 200 patrons checked out some of the 1,200 books in the branch in just the first week of operation.
A year later, OPPL purchased and renovated a Selman Field barracks building for roughly $4,000, of which more than half was raised by African- American community members. The building was located at 116 North 10th Street. In 1964, the physical location of the Branch moved again when it was reopened at 2941 Renwick Street.
Named after George Washington Carver, the Carver Branch was later re- named the Carver-McDonald Branch after its first librarian, Odalie McDonald.
“I have heard from many patrons who grew up under Mrs. McDonald’s leadership that she was a woman of character, grace and intelligence. We are celebrating this branch’s 70th birthday because of her contributions,” said Carver-McDonald Branch Manager Joyce Powell.
All community members are invited to attend the birthday party. There will be historic images and newspaper articles of the branch throughout the years on display, children can decorate their own party hats, and cake and ice cream will be served. The Carver-McDonald Branch is located at 2941 Renwick Street in Monroe.