For the over 1.3 million patrons who’ve walked through the doors of the Natchitoches Parish Library since 2007, the services and programs it offers are indispensable. The library is a lifeline in the community, offering resources to improve the lives of parish residents by connecting them to information, technology and opportunities.
Since 2007 over 69,444 reference questions have been answered, over 1.5 million items have been checked out, over 269,888 patrons have used the Library’s electronic resources and over 1,624 programs have been implemented. But what does the Library mean to the patrons it serves?
Books help family build a home:
The Meyer family built their home on Williams Avenue from the ground up using information they pulled from books on the shelves at the Library. Rebecca’s husband Christopher was a Major in the Marine Corp. When he went to work in the civilian world, the couple wanted a place to call their own, but with housing prices and quotes from contractors so high in today’s market, they decided to build it themselves.
Neither had the necessary experience, so they started pulling construction and design book off the shelves and learning about plumping, electrical, IRC codes and more. Rebecca is proud that they were able to put money back into the community through the project, buying 90 percent of their materials from Home Hardware.
Their daughter Eva tutors younger children in Math at the Library. Coincidentally, Rebecca used the Library as a resource in homeschooling Eva, who at 15-years-old is taking three dual-enrollment classes at NSU.
“The Library helped us get into a home and so much more,” said Rebecca.
New branch builds Campti community:
Before the Library built its Northeast branch in Campti, Donna Isaacs found it hard to utilize the services of the main branch in Natchitoches. Once the new library opened, she said its accessibility to the Campti community has quadrupled residents’ usage of its resources.
Donna herself uses the library as her office. She is the executive director of the Campti Field of Dreams (CFOD). Besides her local work, she teaches online classes on green building for the Urban Construction Craft Academy in Florida and works as a consultant for green building projects. She rents the Library’s free WIFI devices, reads books on farming and raising animals and offers CFOD programs on sustainable agriculture.
“The Library has helped me both personally and professionally,” she said. “It’s a valuable partner to bring educational programs to the community. The Library itself is a resource to better the community. It does a lot for us that not tangible. It changes how we feel about ourselves and how we invest in our community.”
Donna says the staff play a big role in the Library’s success. They help patrons find the resources they need to address challenges or solve problems in their lives. Most importantly, patrons aren’t limited to the books on the shelf. Interlibrary loans offer accessibility to books in libraries across the state.
Library expands patrons’ horizons:
Edwin Crayton said the Library in Natchitoches serves as an equalizer for the African American, minority and poor people in the community. People often use the computers at the Library because it’s something they can’t afford to own. It’s not only an income issue, but an accessibility issue. People can’t always get access to Internet and other technology where they live, so they’ve fallen way behind the world in many areas. The Library helps to bridge this gap. It serves as an unofficial job center and an unintentional social agent, offering social equality, educational resources and access to tools people need to succeed in a technology saturated and driven environment.
“A Library creates aspirations by enlightening its patrons and giving them access to a broader world,” said Edwin. “People need to realize the intangibles are just as important as the tangibles. The Library helps its patrons explore philosophy, art, religion and their own culture. Whether citizens are supporting our local government, school district or Parish Library, the community needs to be more involved and better informed.”