Under the title “Want Parish Library Located in Bossier, Propose Legislation,” the Plain Dealing Progress edition of June 11, 1936 told about a bill pending in the Louisiana Legislature that would create funds for maintenance of parish libraries.
“Of interest to every person in the state, and especially to farmers, is House Bill No. 660 providing for state aid to parish and regional libraries, now before the legislature. Library service for every part of Louisiana will eventually be provided if the bill goes into effect, state members of the Louisiana Library Commission.”
“In response to requests for such aid from 45 parishes, the proposed appropriation will extend parish library service into a larger area, provide for more books, strengthen existing libraries and result in the establishment of more libraries throughout the state.”
“Only six of the 64 Louisiana parishes have parish-wide library service at present and 1.409,084 persons in the state are without the use of free public library service. The use of existing libraries has demonstrated their need. All the books that can be provided are eagerly read, say librarians, and there are sometimes hundreds on the waiting lists of parish libraries and of the Louisiana Library Commission headquarters at Baton Rouge.”
“Members of rural communities would soon be provided, through state aid, with branch libraries within easy reach. In this way farm boys and girls would have the same opportunity for the use of good books as Lindburg [sic] or Edison or Henry Ford, who spend long hours in public libraries in preparation for their achievements.”
“Universities, schools and libraries are equally valuable as instruments of education. Those who are denied use of the first two may, if library service is extended throughout the state, make use of the third, which will be accessible to everyone.”
“Mrs. S. C. Barr in cooperation with the local and parish units of the Parent-Teacher Association, along with other civic organizations of the town and parish is conducting a movement to have a parish library located somewhere in this parish and our entire citizenry is urged to lend hearty cooperation, with our representative and senator also being urged to support the proposed measure.”
Bossier Parish’s library started in 1940 at the urging of the Bossier High School PTA as a demonstration library by the Louisiana Library Commission (now the State Library of Louisiana). It relied on library assistants from the Works Progress Administration, which was a Federal employment program created by the Franklin Roosevelt administration to pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Bossier had never had a public library except for some books donated to the courthouse for public use. The demonstration library allowed the parish to experience the benefits of a public library for a year-long trial period, after which the parish would choose to either abandon the program or take over the library by accepting the state’s books and equipment. The Police Jury voted almost unanimously to adopt the library on June 12, 1941. Although the war made the library very focal as a “War Information Center”, dedicated funding for the library was thwarted by World War II. It limped along financially until 1947 when it was funded with a tax specifically for the library system.
To find out about other Bossier Parish institutions, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.
Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at email@example.com