Cameron Main Library

Branch History

The first library in Cameron Parish was opened on June 27, 1958; one year after Hurricane Audrey destroyed the area, killing over 500 people. The Calcasieu Parish Jaycees, wanting to help the parish, raised money to build the library next to the Cameron Elementary School. The State Library of Louisiana was also generous in donating $8,000 worth of books, paying one year’s salary for two employees, and providing a bookmobile. Miss. Lily McGehee named as the first parish librarian, stayed until November, when Mrs. Mary Brand took over for some years. At the end of the year, Cameron Parish voters approved a maintenance tax to continue the operation of the library.

For almost fifty years the Cameron Library operated almost uninterrupted. The library system expanded to four more local branches around the parish. Another bookmobile was purchased which allowed the library to provide services to different schools and communities within the parish. Business was good for the library system.

Hurricane Rita struck the Cameron Parish coastline on September 24, 2005, destroying the parish with 20 ft. waves, 16 ft. flood waters and hundreds of tornadoes that ripped trees from the ground and houses from foundations. Four of the library buildings were completely destroyed, including the main branch. After Hurricane Rita, services were able to return to the town of Cameron in one of the evacuated bookmobiles, though the materials were limited. Only a few hundred items were on board the bookmobile when it reopened in July of 2006.

The Cameron Parish Library system celebrated a milestone in its recovery process when two temporary buildings were generously donated to Cameron and Grand Chenier. The libraries, contents, operational costs, and staff salaries were funded through a grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Cameron Parish Library moved into their new temporary building February 1, 2007. It offered what the town needed as they were trying to rebuild and get things back to normal.

The Gulf Coast Libraries Recovery Project, administered by the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET), provided 22 other replacement libraries to communities damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Cameron and Grand Chenier libraries were the first to be opened on the Gulf Coast. The grand opening on February 26, 2007, was attended by more than 250 people, including dignitaries such as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu who gave the keynote address.

Things were going well. Service to the parish was again being provided. Cameron people were glad to have a library again, and to have a building instead of a bookmobile. The Summer Reading Program for the kids was helpful for the town’s children after Rita. It provided positive activities for kids. The library was once again providing books, DVD’s and services for the public such as computers, copies and faxes.

Then on September 13, 2008, another hurricane hit the Louisiana/Texas coast as a Category 2 storm. The storm surge brought damage and devastation to lower Cameron Parish. The temporary building that had provided so much to the community was in ruins. It was heartbreaking to once again lose the library and all other community buildings in the small coastal town.

Hurricane Ike may have destroyed the library and most everything in town, but the storm would not destroy the spirits of the citizens of Cameron.

The bookmobile returned to Cameron to provide the town with reading materials, DVD’s, computers, internet access, and other important services.

Not long passed before the location that was formerly the Wendell Electric and Hardware Store was selected as a temporary location for the Cameron Library. The doors opened on April 1, 2010 with thousands of new materials. This location has served the people of Cameron since then, and staff dedicated to continuing to serve the community for a very long time.