It is the mission of the Evangeline Parish Library to provide informational, cultural, educational, and recreational materials to the people of Evangeline Parish.Although the Library places an emphasis on the selection of books and other print materials, it also acquires appropriate audio and visual media, as well as electronic resources.
The Evangeline Parish Library is the local center for continuing self-education and can provide assistance to students at all levels. The Library strives to maintain an active collection, meeting current and foreseeable needs.
History of the Library
The Library began June 27, 1940, when a group of Ville Platte citizens met in the Knights of Columbus hall and voted to set up a subscription library in the hall. Initial prices to subscribe to the library were one dollar a year or ten cents a month or one penny a day. To give you an idea of the significance of the amounts, in 1940 Ville Platte Gazette ads offered new ladies’ suede coats for $1.50, and new men’s coveralls for 35 cents each.
The Library officially was founded as a part of parish (i.e., county) government in 1948, and from then on it has been funded by parish ad valorem property taxes rather than subscriptions. Many library board members, library directors, and staff have worked throughout the years to provide quality services to this parish. (See parish ordinance of 8-13-45 and resolution of 7-12-48.)
Board members are appointed by the police jury (similar to a county council), and the library board hires the system director.
Currently (September 2014) the staff consists of twenty-one full and part-time employees, who operate and administer the system and the six facilities. The library system runs with a total operating budget of about one million dollars, which must stretch to cover all facility needs and all debt service. The bulk of library funding comes from ad valorem property taxes. Other sources of funding are grants, Erate reimbursements, state aid (when available), donations, and fines and fees.
From 2004 through 2008 the Mamou and Basile branches were renovated, the Pine Prairie branch enlarged, and the Turkey Creek branch built. All of the debt from these projects was paid off nearly three years early (with a significant interest saving!).
We have just moved from our former main library, a 6,200 sq. ft. three-level former post office building constructed in 1937. Our new location is 916 W. Main, Ville Platte. The new building is about 9,100 sq. ft. under cover. We are particularly proud that this was a locally funded project. The new building opened to the public on Sept. 22, 2014 and has its grand opening/building dedication scheduled for Friday morning Sept. 26th. This will be followed by a special family fun morning on Sat. Sept. 27th.
The board and staff have two basic goals: to provide high-quality core library services to all our patrons, and to live within our financial means without asking for additional tax increases. Evangeline Parish is a relatively poor rural area of Louisiana, and we are always aware of the financial sacrifices that our neighbors and local businesses make so that library services can be provided. We strive to be good stewards of public money and all donations.
Library use is growing. We have increased Internet bandwidth, put in wireless at all facilities, added a new online catalog, redesigned our web site to make our services more user-friendly, and added EBooks both through the Overdrive collection of the Libraries Southwest Consortium and through the State Library of Louisiana’s Louisiana Library Connection. Click on both these icons on this webpage to learn more.
We are active Interlibrary Loan participants, loaning out more and more materials each year to other library systems and getting more materials for our patrons in return. Our Summer Reading program is thriving, we have a growing teen fiction collection and teen readers, and we work closely with Head Start and with preschools to present early childhood programs encouraging literacy. We also work closely with the Evangeline Genealogical and Historical Society to try to collect and preserve our parish’s history. We have a small, but growing and active, Friends of the Library group.
Our Friends of the Library group has 501(c)3 tax status, and all donations to them are tax deductible. The Friends sponsor ongoing used book sales at all the library branches.
Currently the Friends have a special fundraiser going, both online and in person/by mail, to raise money to help furnish the new main library. The Friends’ first phase of the fundraiser was highly successful in raising $10,000 to furnish the future children’s room of the new building. Now the Friends are seeking to raise money to help furnish other areas of the new building. Click on the “Wish List” star banner on the main page of this website to see what the Friends are seeking donations to furnish: teen room, main area reading chairs, genealogy room furniture, courtyard benches, a possible courtyard statue, and more. The Friends are also selling memorial pavers for placement near the front of the new building. For more information, please click on “Wish List.” Thank you!
Through the State Library we are proud to be able to provide many electronic resources to help student from grade school through college, job seekers, and patrons hunting for reliable medical information and other consumer help. New resources through the State Library include TumbleBooks, Learning Express, and Homework Louisiana (featuring live tutors!). Through local funding we offer Ancestry and Heritage Quest for family history research.
We also maintain microfilms of the Ville Platte Gazette and the Basile Weekly. We do limited obituary searches for patrons and can scan and email information to inquirers from outside our system. There are nominal charges for obituary or other news article services if we do the research and send you the results.
Many patrons come to us to use the computers to fill out government forms or do job applications online. They also use Microsoft Office 2010 here to make résumés , cover letters, school projects, invitations, etc. They use the scanner at the main library to archive or email photos. As a needed service in this rural area, we also photocopy and fax for patrons. You can register to vote on selected days at the Mamou branch, and tax forms are available at all locations.
As a small rural system with limited means and six facilities to staff and maintain, unfortunately we cannot offer all the services that many libraries do. As much as we might like to offer more services and item collections, we have to live within our means. However, we strive for friendly individualized help for all our patrons and for excellence in basic library functions.
We welcome volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with us, or would just like to learn more about the Evangeline Parish Library, or if you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (337) 363-1369 or cell (337) 831-4281, or email the director, Mary Foster-Galasso, at email@example.com.