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Leeds Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates history of Jane Culbreth Library

Leeds’ Jane Culbreth Library

Leeds’ Jane Culbreth Library recently celebrated 75 years of public service to Leeds.

LEEDS -- The Leeds Area Chamber of Commerce recently highlighted the Jane Culbreth Library and the history behind it.

According to the Chamber, Leeds’ first public library opened in the 1920s in two rooms above what was then Whitehead’s Grocery on Ninth Street. In the early 1930s, the library moved to Leeds High School with Winnie Carlisle as librarian. 

The library was then moved to a room in City Hall in 1966, and Louise Lahan became librarian when “Miss Winnie” retired in October 1967, after 37 years of service.

The first legally constituted board of trustees was appointed in September 1967, when Jane Culbreth was on the board and its Library Development Committee. Culbreth’s dream was for a larger library for the city. 

The existing library bears her name as a tribute for her library work and her many other civic accomplishments.

As public interest and financial support grew, the city leased the building at the present location on Parkway Drive from Ray Little in 1981.

Martha Rogers became its director in October 1971 and held that position until her retirement in 1992. 

Donna Cole was hired as director in July 1992 and remained director until her untimely death Aug. 27, 1997. Doris Jarvis was appointed acting director at that time until she was hired as the library’s official director in February 1998. She remained on the job until her retirement June 1, 2008.  

Mondretta Williams became the library’s director June 1, 2008, until her retirement on Feb.1, 2017. 

Melanie Carden was hired Jan. 3, 2017, and is the current director.

On April 19, 1998, the library celebrated 75 years of service to Leeds.

The Leeds City Council held a special meeting at that time to officially rename the library the Leeds Jane Culbreth Library.