One of the most cherished institutions of Pointe Coupee Parish is its public library. The library system in Pointe Coupee Parish was born of culture, dedication, sacrifice and immeasurable generosity.
It is significant that the greater portion of the tract of land on which the main library is located was donated by the heirs of the late District Attorney Ferd C. Claiborne and his wife Adrienne, as Mrs. Claiborne was one of the foremost pioneers of the library movement in Pointe Coupee Parish. Mrs. Claiborne privately established the first library in the parish in 1910 at the site currently occupied by Raymond’s Pharmacy. There, Mrs. Claiborne rented books, many from her own private collection, for twenty-five cents per month. The library was open every weekday afternoon and operated on a non-profit, donation basis. Mrs. Adrienne Lawrence Claiborne’s original collection is now part of the Pointe Coupee Parish Library’s Historic Materials Collection.
In 1934, the Pointe Coupee Book Club officially began the duties of operating its public library, using some of Mrs. Claiborne’s materials as well as materials from their own private collections. Initially, Book Club members took turns being librarian; then assistance was requested of the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury and New Roads Town Council. Both responded generously to the Book Clubs request. Miss Eloise Herring (Cotton) was appointed as the first librarian of Pointe Coupee Parish. The library became a WPA project in 1935, and Miss Lillian St. Romain was certified as Librarian, serving until her retirement in 1947. In 1938, the enlarged library was moved into the Gosserand Building in New Roads, then in 1940 to the Courthouse.
Late in 1940, when WPA support was discontinued, the Louisiana Library Commission noted that Pointe Coupee was eligible for a parish-wide library under the system and took the library over for a year as a demonstration project, with an appropriation from the Police Jury. Branches of the library were established, a parish bookmobile was provided, as well as a substantial increase in books, and the Inter-Library Loan Service was initiated. Parish-wide employees were secured. The formal opening of the Pointe Coupee Parish Library occurred on April 27, 1941. On April 25, 1961, the citizens of Pointe Coupee voted a three-mil tax for ten years for maintenance and a one-mil tax for five years for buildings and site. Plans were made for construction of a headquarters in New Roads and branches in Innis, Livonia, Rougon and Morganza. The spacious new library opened in New Roads in the autumn of 1966 with a total floor area of 8700 square feet. Let us not forget also the Bookmobile, which traveled the roads of Pointe Coupee Parish from 1961 until 1999.
A Time for Change
In 1994, the Pointe Coupee Parish Library began a massive renovation/expansion project with the assistance of an LSCA II Construction grant. This project encompassed the renovation & expansion of the New Roads main library in 1995; the renovation & expansion of the four outlying branch libraries in 1996; and the addition of a system-wide computer system in 1997.
Consistently for the last 15 years, Pointe Coupee Parish Library has ranked statewide overall first in circulation per capita and collection size per capita. This small feat states a great deal about the support the library system receives from its general public.
Over the years, Pointe Coupee Parish Library has enjoyed the tremendous support of its citizens. For the last 60 years, each tax proposition on the ballot in support of the public library has passed by a resounding margin. The last tax proposition passed with a voter approval of 87%. This newest tax will support the public library efforts through the year 2019. Faced with harsh economic times, the Pointe Coupee Parish Library system and its employees are humbled by the over-whelming and continued support of our public.
Today’s library not only carries numerous books, but also magazines, videos, CDs, audio books, digital books, photographs, microfilm, newspapers, and computers. Library’s staff assists with computer instruction, income tax filing, resume writing, homework questions and basic Internet usage. The library’s two meeting rooms are constantly used. And library hours have been extended to better accommodate the general needs of the public. Open seven days a week, the Pointe Coupee Parish Library is also available via its website.