Parish votes on library bond issue April 21

By Tom Kelly
Editor and Publisher

Winn Parish voters are invited to make a mark for progress in the election on Saturday, April 21, to approve a bond issue to construct a new parish library.

The proposed modern facility at 11,300 square feet will more than double the size of the present 5,000 square foot library, built in 1954. The proposed new facility (see architect's rendering) will contain space for a much expanded menu of services for the public, including children, teens, and adults.

The Winn Parish Police Jury has called for the vote on a bond issue totaling $2,434,000, to be repaid from tax revenues over ten years. The new facility will be located on an approximately two-acre plot on North St. John at North Street, one block off Main Street behind the Winnfield Methodist Church. Land for the new building has been donated by local families, who have also made significant financial contributions through family foundations to support new library facilities in Winnfield.

A combination of savings accumulated through the years, donations, and the proposed tax, the library will be able to construct and operate widely expanded program of library services.

Mrs. Mary Doherty, Librarian, has served the local library for 20 years. She listed "Ten things you could do in a new library that you can't do now." She said, "Most library patrons don't view the library as a place to read and relax. Instead, they get and go. The library offers only four comfortable chairs, so you can't plan on an available spot. In the new library with adequate space, people will have the opportunity to find a quiet, comfortable place to enjoy the day. Think of it as the community's living room."

Other facilities will include meeting rooms, expanded computer access, outreach programs for children and adults. Children will have a space where they can sit comfortably during reading or other activities without distrupting others. Children can express themselves, reach all the materials, and have some wiggle room. The area will help families provide positive experiences for their children that will aid in their education," Mrs. Doherty said.

Based on the tax millage proposed, residents with home values of up to $75,000 will see no increase in yearly taxes. Values up to $100,000 would have an increase of $11.88 per year; $150,000 value, increase of $35,63, and $200,000, incfrease $69.38 per year.

Management of the Library is by a board, whose members are Mrs. Marilyn Shaw, Lawrence White, Dickie Heard, Mrs. Kathy Brewton, Mrs. Katherine Hobdy, and Bobby Guin, with Police Jury President Jack McFarland an ex-officio member. Mrs. Martha Williams, recently deceased, was a member of the board, who position remains vacant until filled by appointment of the Police Jury.

Winn Parish's current library facility, located one block west of the downtown Court House square, was funded and built during the administration of the late Librarian, Mrs. Rubye Hanks. It was at the time a major step up from the old wood frame "shotgun" building on the same location, which grew out of one of the Louisiana State Library's earliest "Demonstration Libraries," pioneered by State Librarian Sallie Farrell.

Through the years, the book collection has grown, and interest has developed in family histories and genealogy, programs for children and adults, and other services. All current space is over-occupied, and special programs are either crowded or not available at all for lack of space, equipment, and materials.

Public library service in Louisiana was initiated in 1920, when the Louisiana Legislature created the Louisiana Library Commission, a forerunner of the State Library of Louisiana. In 1925, the Commission joined with the great philanthropic Carnegie Corporation to create a network of libraries across the state. Three-quarters of a century later, Louisiana boasts public libraries in each of its 64 parishes.

Educational and informational databases are provided with access through the public libraries for all Louisiana citizens. Through the interlibrary loan system for all 68 public library systems, the public libraries can obtain any library materials from anywhere in the world for their citizens that their local budgets cannot afford.

Consulting services are provided to all of Louisiana's public libraries on any library related topic. These topics include: library law, construction, personnel, library management, library finance, continuing education, orientations for new directors and boards, and public relations.

Front view of proposed new building.

Rear view of proposed new building