Lafayette Library Users Look to Future

Posted at 1:28 AM, Apr 07, 2021

It's National Library Week, promoting library use and support across the nation. In Lafayette, there is some concern about who can use the libraries and whether or not there is support for their growth and expansion.
One concerned citizen is Jean Menard, who says she visits the libraries with her family for many hours every week.

"This is our safe, quiet space to work. We utilize computers here, we utilize wifi here. The kids get fiction books to read for fun and non-fiction books to read for school," says Menard.

"It gives children the access to something they might not normally have outside of the school atmosphere. It's available evenings and weekends," adds James Thomas, a member of the library control board.

The library's services don't stop at children. Each branch offers monthly events and programing, plus access to many tools including ACT test prep and practice test proctoring, training on how to use LinkedIn and other career tools, tax prep and so much more.

These are resources everyone should have easy access to, but people in one part of town say they're missing out on a nearby branch.

"I think we have nine total in Lafayette parish, not a single one on the eastern side of the Evangeline Thruway or US 90, I-49, depending which part you're on," says former Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux.
8 million dollars was set aside to afford this North Easter region its own library. Now, a few years after taxpayers decided against a tax supporting libraries, the board says they had no choice but to put the new branch and other projects on hold.

"Since 2018, our budget is running in a deficit. We're losing money and dishing more money out than we're taking in. You know, you build that new library, we have to staff that new library, you have utilities and all that good stuff that go into the mix. So we're expanding something but we don't have the money to operate it. To me that's an issue," explains James Thomas.

It's a few issues now facing the library control board, LCG and those who can vote in Lafayette Parish. A community not being serviced because the libraries aren't being funded the way they once were.

If you aren't one of the 8 control board members, there is one thing you can do to have a say in what's next.

"A lot of these decisions are left to those who are elected at the time. You need to be calling your parish council member or your city council member. If you have relationships with other council members, call them and encourage them to support this initiative because it's that important," says Boudreaux.

Board member Thomas adds if you haven't visited a local library in a while, stop by! And check this page for current programs and the latest happens across the parish.