St. Landry

Nov 25, 2013 7:38 PM by Akeam Ashford

St. Landry: Leaders Push Parish-Wide Library System

St. Landry parish leaders are making a new push in hope of forming a parish-wide library system.

It's the only parish in the state without a unified system.

Fifty years ago voters rejected a parish-wide library system, according to Opelousas mayor Don Cravins.

It would have connected all seven libraries. Right now, only Opelousas and Eunice are sharing resources.

Ginger LeCompte, co-chair of the St. Landry Parish Library Coalition, points to the parish's 62 percent high school graduation rate as a reason for the parish needing a unified system.

"We have a community that, I would say, probably 40 percent or more who are functionally illiterate. This is critical. Our libraries are critical. They are the gateway to knowledge. They're what you would say, 'the public's university,'" LeCompte said.

A parish-wide library system would allow money to go into one basket. The parish would pay for services and materials only one time for all seven libraries.

This will save the parish from buying materials multiple times, LeCompte said.

Opelousas Library Director of Services Jackie Choate said the parish-wide database will allow smaller libraries to go from old outdated programs to an updated online system.

"Services would be so much better and so much more well defined. Anytime you can order in bulk you get it for a little bit better price," Choate said.

According to LeCompte, since St. Landry parish doesn't have the large commercial book stores, families have a hard time getting books they need.

"If you can't get what you need in your school library, where are you supposed to go?," LeCompte said.

A meeting will be held on Dec. 2 to discuss the proposed parish-wide program and funding options, which could include a new property tax proposal. That proposal could go to voters for approval this spring.

A parish-wide tax would generate roughly $3 million dollars a year for the library system to unite.

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