Washington Parish library has grown since its 1946 birth

Published 8:30 am Friday, April 17, 2015

It was on Sunday, April 28, 1946, that the two main branches of the Washington Parish Library System opened with a ceremony at the Masonic building in Franklinton. One ceremony was at the parish seat at 2:30 p.m., and another was at 4:30 p.m. at the Office of Price Administration building in Bogalusa, the largest city in the parish.

Washington became the 22nd parish to host what was then called a demonstration library. Efforts to establish the library system had been under way for more than 20 years, with the Waverly Club of Franklinton credited as one of the instrumental groups to persuade the Louisiana Library Commission to select the parish for library development. A police jury ordinance authorized the LLC to set up and run the library for one year.

In a cooperative effort, the state provided funds for specific things such as salaries, books and supplies, while the parish police jury provided buildings, furniture and funding for utilities. The demonstration agreement was that after one year the parish would pass a special tax to support the libraries.

Ten thousand books were shipped and deposited in the Bogalusa and Franklinton libraries. After the special library tax passed in the parish these books, furnished by the state, would remain as a permanent gift. A Washington Parish Library Board of Control was organized and met on March 19, 1946, at the courthouse in Franklinton.

Soon after the first two main branches were opened, other smaller branches were opened in Angie, Enon and Mt. Hermon. By August 1946, there were nine branches with locations in Johnson, Thomas, Crain and Richardson. In September the same year, the Terrace Branch in Bogalusa was added, along with a Sunny Hill Branch, followed in January 1947 by Pine and Varnado to total 13 branches.

On Feb. 25, 1947, the tax for the maintenance and support for the library system was passed and thus permanently established the Washington Parish Library.

Recalling the 1947 tax in the program for the 60th anniversary celebration of the library, which was held in 2006, it stated that this permanent library meant “The people of Washington Parish had realized their dream — a public library with its storehouse of educational, cultural, informational and recreational resources free and available to every citizen of the parish.”

National Library Week was observed April 12-18 this year and had as its theme “Unlimited possibilities at your library.” The library system in Washington Parish has evolved over the years and is currently offering many possibilities for parish citizens. These include different formats of books, a variety of DVDs, computers on site, special programs and performances for children and teenagers, computer classes, laptop computers available to check out, wi-fi connection in the library and many links and data bases available through the parish website.

On May2, a special tax renewal proposition for the library will be on the ballot, along with three others. It will be Proposition No. 4 of the renewals and must be passed for the continued operation of the library system.