In 1952, the Boards of Supervisors in Hinds, Rankin, Scott, and Simpson Counties established the Capital Area Regional Library System and agreed to support a cooperative library. In March of 1973, the Capital Area Regional Library System merged with the Jackson Municipal Library System (serving Hinds, Scott, Simpson, and Smith Counties) to form the Jackson Metropolitan Library System. Rankin County joined the system in October 1973, followed by Vicksburg-Warren County in January of 1974. In October 1986, Hinds County decided to become a separate library system and became Jackson-Hinds Library System. At that time, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, and Smith County formed the Central Mississippi Regional Library System; and was made up of twenty-one libraries. Headquarters for the system was located in Pearl at the Pearl Public Library until 1996 when it moved to a building on Office Park Drive in Brandon. In 2012, Headquarters moved to its present location on Tamberline Street in Brandon.
The original twenty-two libraries that made up CMRLS were in the following cities:
Pearl, Brandon, Florence, Cash, Pineville, Puckett, Pelahatchie, Richland, Reservoir, Sandhill, Forest, Morton, Sebastopol, Lake, Magee, Mendenhall, D’Lo, Harrisville, Mize, Polkville, Raleigh, Taylorsville. Cash closed in 1986. Pineville closed in 1987. Flowood opened in 2002 and D’Lo closed in 2010.
Twenty branches in Rankin (5), Scott (4), Simpson (3), and Smith (4) Counties make up CMRLS at present. They are: G. Chastaine Flynt Memorial Library (Flowood), Pearl Public Library, Brandon Public Library, Puckett Public Library, Pelahatchie Public Library, Florence Public Library, Northwest Point Reservoir Library, Richland Public Library, and Sandhill Public Library in Rankin County. In Scott County; Forest Public Library, Morton Public Library, Sebastopol Public Library, and Lake Public Library. Magee Public Library, Mendenhall Public Library, and Harrisville Public Library make up Simpson County. In Smith County; R. T. Prince Memorial Library (Mize), Polkville Public Library, Floyd J. Robinson Memorial Library (Raleigh), and Evon A. Ford Library (Taylorsville).
Board of Trustees:
County Boards of Supervisors choose CMRLS Board of Trustees members; two members from Rankin County, and one each from Scott, Simpson, and Smith counties. Board members serve five-year terms and may serve up to two consecutive terms.
Directors of CMRLS:
- Janice Parrott, 1986-1992
- Nancy Scott, 1993-1996
- Rose Johnson, 1997-2001
- Kaileen Thieling, 2001-2013
- Mara Villa Polk, 2013-Present
The local Library Boards serve in an advisory capacity only. The Mayor and Board of Aldermen appoint these board members. The CMRLS Board of Trustees has final decision-making power.
Friends of the Library
The Friends are support groups for the libraries; to raise funds to support the libraries mission in the community. They have no legal authority over day-to-day operations. Each Friends of the Library group must belong to Friends of Mississippi Libraries and must register as a non-profit organization with the Secretary of State.