Outstanding librarian, civic and church leader


Ollie Mae Hamilton Burns is the youngest of three children born to the union of Ernest Hamilton and Charlottee Davis Hamilton.

She grew up in Monroe and was graduated from Monroe Colored High School in 1929. Her class was the first to receive complete high school diplomas and a second grade teacher's certificate.

Some classmates entered the teaching profession after graduation but Ollie attended Southern University for two years and later earned her B.S. degree from Grambling, M.S. degree in Library Science from L.S.U and did further study at the University of Washington and Northeast Louisiana University. She retired in 1976 after teaching for 37 1/2 years in Jackson and Ouachita Parishes.

In 1977 she wrote a proposal for an after school study program and was successful in getting it funded by the Louisiana State Department of Health and Hospitals-Bureau of Substance Abuse. It was called the New Way Center.

The New Way Center, which she directed, was sponsored by the First Missionary Baptist Church and employs a group of retired teachers, college students and others. It has, and continues to help many young people.

Other endeavors include: Member and past president of the Ouachita Parish League of Women Voters, the Monroe Branch of the National Association of University Women, the Ouachita Parish Library Board of Control and the Trustee Section of the Louisiana Library Association.

She held membership in several organizations which include: Omicron Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., A.L. Brunner Chapter #35 of the Order of the Eastern Star, Mayor's Commission on the Needs of Women, Interdenominational Minister's Wives Alliance, Church Women United and North Louisiana Arts Council.

Some of her awards included: Various plauqes from local groups, listing in the 1978 and subsequent editions of the Who's Who Among Black Americans and 1991 recipient of the Louisiana Library Association's Modiseette Award to outstanding trustees. She initiated the first Legal Aid Program in Ouachita Parish and was a principal organizer of the Head Start Program in 1965.

Mrs. Burns was married to the Reverend Alex A. Burns (1937) and they are the parents of five children: Alice Burns Grigsby, Alex Burns, III, Sylvia Burns, Lawrence Burns and Benjamin Burns.

She was an active member of the First Missionary Baptist Church where she has served as director and dean of Christian Education, Sunday School Teacher and a member of the choir, head of the church library, member of the Missionary Society, Board of Christian Education and Vice President of the Deaconess Board.

In 2011 a new branch of the Ouachita Parish Library, The Ollie Burns Branch, was named after her.