Mayor Jim Luke Celebrates with Friends of the Library for Their 60th Anniversary

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, October 10, 2023

By The City of Picayune

Mayor Jim Luke was the guest speaker at the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Friends of the Margaret
Reed Crosby Memorial Library and Cultural Center, addressing the attendees with a speech about his
connection to the library and the history of Picayune. Library Director Lamont Pearson took a moment to
commend Mayor Luke for his longstanding involvement with the library and his dedication to the city’s history.
Mayor Luke, known for his passion for Picayune and Mississippi history, expressed his gratitude for being
invited to speak at the important event. His speech was not only an acknowledgment of the library’s
beginnings but also an opportunity to share a personal story about his journey into writing and the growth of
our beloved city of Picayune.

Approximately nine years ago, he surprised his wife Karen by expressing his desire to write a book. Karen
jokingly asked, “What do you know about writing a book?” Undeterred, Jim sought advice from
knowledgeable individuals about how to embark on his writing journey. He brought his story to Doug
McQueen, who recognized its potential. Under McQueen’s guidance, Jim submitted his stories to various
magazines, and upon their publication, McQueen advised him to write a book and write it to be about
something he knew well. Mayor Luke decided to draw upon his experiences growing up on Goodyear Blvd.,
which was synonymous with hanging out and cruising the Boulevard. This marked the beginning of his writing
career, including a contribution to “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Currently, he is working on a book about the
history of the Tate Mansion.

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Transitioning to the library’s history, Mayor Luke provided insights into the institution’s evolution over the
years. It was the Woman’s Club of Picayune that had initially proposed the idea of a free public library, leading
to the founding of the Picayune Public Library in 1927. However, its humble beginnings were in a small room
inside the Boston Store on W. Canal St.

In 1939, as Picayune continued to grow, the library relocated to a new home on East Canal Street. By 1962, the
library’s collection had expanded to an impressive 9,000 volumes, necessitating a larger space. It was at this
point that the Crosby family decided to launch a new project: a modern library on Goodyear Boulevard,
spanning 11,000 square feet. In 1963, the library proudly opened its doors at this new location, bearing the
official name “Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library” in tribute to the Crosby matriarch. The Crosby family
generously provided the building and its furnishings in honor of their grandmother, ensuring that her legacy
remains in the heart of Picayune. Concurrently, in the same year, the Friends of the Margaret Reed Crosby
Memorial Library was established, adding a dedicated support system to help the library flourish.
Mayor Jim Luke concluded his address by reaffirming his unwavering commitment, along with the dedicated
city council and administration, to move Picayune forward while preserving the cherished small-town
southern charm that defines Picayune.