In November of 1911, a petition with 160 signatures attached was presented to the LaGrande City Council requesting the establishment of a city library. A resolution was passed, and in December of 1911 the council set aside and dedicated Lot 1, Block 66, Chaplin's Addition (now the site of the historic Carnegie building) for future use as the Public Library.
Correspondence with the Carnegie Corporation revealed that a library must be in existence before funds for a Carnegie building could be secured. To that end, a library was established in the basement of Honan Hall on March 27, 1912, for a rent of $25.00 a month. The initial collection consisted of approximately 1000 books.
On February 10th, 1913, the Carnegie Corporation informed the library board it would make a donation of $12,500. for the construction of a library building. An ordinance was then passed accepting the gift from the Carnegie Corporation, with the agreement that the city give not less that $2500. annually for the support of the library.
On July 25, 1913, the contract for the construction of the new building was given to G.H. Rush for $7777. The heating and plumbing contract was given to Hume and Spaeth for $1269. The architects for the building were Messrs. Block & Bunting. The building was duly completed and the books were installed on December 31, 1913. The formal opening was held March 16, 1914. Miss Mabel Doty, the first professional librarian to work for the LaGrande Public Library, later wrote that "A large number of citizens were present at the formal opening and the LaGrande Public Library began serving its community."
On September 19, 2006, the La Grande Public Library moved from its long time home in the historic Carnegie building to its current location at 2006 Fourth Street. The La Grande Public Library was officially renamed as the F. Maxine and Thomas W. Cook Memorial Library by an act of the La Grande City Council in recognition of the significant financial support of the Cook family.