The St. Lucia Public Library System has a strong history and has established itself as an influential and important aspect of St. Lucia. To date, the St. Lucia Public Library System consists of the Central Library, located in the capital of Castries, along with 16 branch libraries serving people throughout St. Lucia. The system also has a Bookmobile Library which serves rural communities on the island.

There had been failed attempts to start a circulating library and reading room services in St. Lucia in 1830, 1836, 1839, and 1842, with the longest initiative lasting for about a year. The history of the Saint Lucia Public Library System dates back to 1888 after funding was secured from the Andrew Carnegie Trust and the Castries Town Board. Starting from the library’s conception to its completion,
it was steeped in controversy regarding a dispute over the site for its erection. It was ultimately decided that the library would be constructed on the Columbus Square, now called the Derek Walcott Square (its present location). The library building’s cornerstone was placed in 1923 and the Carnegie Library was officially opened in Castries in November of 1924.

Under the Eastern Caribbean Library Scheme of 1941, the Carnegie Library of Saint Lucia re-organized its services. The library system recognized the need for an organized public library system and established its major goals as follows:

     The provision of a free library service.
     The maintenance of approved library standards.
     Rural extension to provide library facilities for the whole island.
     Services and programs for children.

Thus the plan for a free library system in St. Lucia was established and since then branch libraries have opened for public use in communities throughout Saint Lucia. Many of the branch libraries that were established in the early 1950s were due to the efforts of the Central Caribbean Regional Library Scheme, who solicited funding, space, books, and organized some of the first branch libraries.

In 1948, the Carnegie Library in Castries was destroyed in a disastrous fire. All of the books, records, and furniture inside the library walls were lost. Over 20,000 volumes went up in flames. After the fire, the library was temporarily housed in the lower story of 34 Chisel Street in Castries and then in a building at George the Fifth Park. The library was rebuilt in 1958, with assistance from a Colonial Development and Welfare Grant, and was renamed the Central Library of Saint Lucia.

In 1994 the building of the Central Library received a major facelift and renovations while still maintaining the historic look of the building. Space was added to make room for a Periodical Section, Adult Fiction Section, Adult Non-Fiction Section, and a new Administration and Technical Services Section. The building continues to be an architectural treasure of St. Lucia and attracts the
attention of visitors due to its original Victorian architecture, designed by Lil Burn Lawrence.

It is the continued mission of the library system to provide quality library and information services to all citizens and to develop programs that will help them to become independent users and lifelong learners.

For further reading on the history of St. Lucia Public Library System:
St. Lucia: Historical, Statistical, and Descriptive

Author: Henry Breen 
Publisher: Longman, Brown, Green , and Longmans (p. 273)
Year: 1844

Historical Review of the Castries Municipality from 1785 to 1967
Author: Francis J. Carasco
Publisher: Castries Town Council
Year: 1967