Letter to the Editor: Why we need libraries

To the Editor:

I was confused when I heard that some of the Natchitoches Parish Council members thought it was a good idea to rededicate the Natchitoches Parish Library funds. I was completely shocked to find out that there is going to be a vote on April 29 on cutting funding to our library. I strongly encourage others to make the effort to get out and vote against this millage rededication.

“To ask why we need libraries at all, when there is so much information available elsewhere, is about as sensible as asking if roadmaps are necessary now that there are so very many roads.” -Jon Bing. 

I live on a parish road. It is a dirt road and I do not wish for a dime to be taken from the library to pay for its improvement. Parish residents already voted against new taxes for roads and voted for the renewal of the library tax.

The library is a huge resource for school aged children of the Parish. As a homeschooling mother of two I visit the library often to supplement my curriculum and attend STEAM programs. Many of the mothers in my homeschool group do the same. During my visits I’ve seen many public-school students utilizing the after school tutoring program while I am there. The library’s reach isn’t limited to the city’s schoolchildren. All students have access to the in-person or virtual homework help. They can even check out a Wifi hotspot to access the virtual tutoring if they do not have internet at home. The book mobile visits rural schools throughout the parish. I can only imagine how many children the library has helped to achieve academic success. Children are our future, so removing programs that keep them interested in learning hurts our community as a whole.

I have also routinely attended Library Story Time for years. It is a well utilized asset for young mothers in our Parish. It’s a place to meet other moms and for children to learn, interact and grow together. The library is one of the only indoor places Natchitoches has for children to go on a rainy day. Reading to children before they can read themselves supports cognitive development, improves language skills, promotes early literacy, and prepares them for academic success. The library also offers programs to stimulate the minds of toddlers through music, crafts and more.

The library and its programs for adults is a draw for those looking to move here to develop industry. The library is a natural partner in our local economic development efforts. It provides a variety of resources designed to develop workforce capacity including assistance with ACT/SAT practice testing, resume writing assistance, the tech talks series and small business development seminars.

The summer programs the library offers serve a very large portion of Natchitoches’ Youth. The library is a great place for the youth to be during the summers. Our Parish has double the number of children living in poverty than the rest of the United States. Poverty levels have a direct correlation with crime rates. Our Library offers our youth a place to be that is centered around learning. It is a respite from the pulls of the world.  

“Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley. 

Our Library gives us so much more than books. It gives us community.

-Natalie Covher