Tangipahoa library turns 75

Tangipahoa Parish Library Director Barry Bradford, at right, accepts a framed document proclaiming the parish council’s recognition of the library’s 75 years. At left is Councilman Louis Joseph, who serves on the library board.

Tangipahoa Parish Council recognized the Tangipahoa Parish Library System’s 75th anniversary Monday.

“This is a special year for the library,” Bradford said during the parish council meeting in Amite. “We are very happy to be able to celebrate this milestone and appreciate the public for supporting the library with the millage and for them coming in.”

Because of the pandemic, big plans for the celebration did not pan out. Instead, the milestone is being recognized with a proclamation issued by the parish council and a digital slideshow that highlights the library’s history, available for viewing on the library website.

Also, special 75th anniversary bookmarks and a special 75th anniversary library card are available to patrons at the library branches throughout the year.

“We’re just doing what we can considering the circumstances,” Bradford said.

“When you do something 75 years and you’re still in existence, you gotta be doing something right,” said Louis Joseph, Tangipahoa Parish councilman and library board member.

Joseph expressed pride in the library.

As a former educator and former superintendent of schools, Joseph said he believes the center of the education process is the library. The same thing is true in college and when people move out into the community, he said.

“You can judge the worth of the community by its library system. That’s where we go for continuing education because education never stops,” he said.

There is value in having a state-of-the-art library system in the area, Joseph said, and that is why he fought so hard to coordinate with the governor and chief of staff to help the parish find the funds to build the new Kentwood library for the residents of Kentwood, Roseland, Fluker, Arcola and Wilma.

“It’s all about improving the quality of life for the people you represent in the community,” he said.

Tangipahoa Parish’s library was originally founded by the state in July 1944 as a demonstration library to determine public interest. Residents voted to fund a permanent public library through a property tax on April 21, 1945, and the first Tangipahoa Parish Library System location opened in June that year.

“From that point on, we have served the public continually, so this year marks the 75th anniversary of serving the public,” Bradford said.

Since then, the number of branches has grown and locations have changed. Services have progressed with the times as technology allowed the original card catalog to be updated in 1996 with an automated library system. Books, magazines and periodicals are still offered with new additions like DVDs, audiobooks, streaming and WiFi.

Library officials are working on trying to offer mobile hotspots for people to check out, which Bradford said will help people get good, solid internet access.

“We’ve always been here to provide information for the public and to serve the public,” he said. “The mission is still the same as it was in 1945, which is to provide the people with information and entertainment.”

All Tangipahoa Parish Library System’s branches are currently open.

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