The Laurel County Public Library grew from the initial circulating library formed by the Ladies of the First Christian Church in 1916. These women were active throughout the community and after several years of dedicated work, built a library in 1932.
The building was located on 4th Street in London and was staffed by volunteers from the London Woman's Club.
Mrs. Elizabeth Hardin Catching was the first president of the library organization. One of her more notable contributions to the library was spearheading the efforts to expand the library.
The Laurel County Library Association was formed in the 1940's. The association hired Laurel County's first librarian, Clo Era Sewell, in 1952.
Circulation of materials jumped to over 1,000 items for the year. Miss Sewell was forward thinking enough to obtain a bookmobile for Laurel County in 1953.
A library addition was constructed in the early sixties. In 1964 library supporters petitioned for a library district and were successful in this campaign. The library would now receive its own percentage of property tax in the county and have adequate funding to hire additional staff and purchase materials.
Children in Laurel County enjoyed the many programs conducted by the library throughout the years. The organization continued to be a source of pride for the community as the facility and collection grew.
Computers were installed in the library in 1986, and by 1994 the library was automated. One terminal was assigned for Internet access in 1996.
A successful campaign for additional library funding was conducted in 2000. After suffering for many years from a lack of space, the library opened a new 25,000 square foot building in 2003, a project that went on to win the "Build Kentucky" award in 2004.
The new library was immediately embraced by Laurel Countians, resulting in large increases in attendance and circulation of items. Today, an average of 14,500 people visit the library each month and about 34,000 items are circulated monthly. On average, 3,100 people use the library's 31 public computer terminals and wireless access monthly.
As of December 2013, the library's collection consists of more than 134,000 books and printed materials and 26,000 audiovisual items, plus an ever-growing collection of downloadable electronic materials. An average of 60 programs are conducted for adults, teens, and children every month.
With numbers such as these, the library again faces the problem of lack of space. Excavation work for a library expansion began in November 2013, and construction of new additional space for the library is slated to begin in the fall of 2014.