The ballot proposal to take money away from the library because it has done a good job at managing its funds and expanding services is a reflection of the failure of the Parish Council to communicate with parish residents about the need for funds to repair roads. Proposals to fund roads have been on the ballot more than once and yet the residents of Natchitoches Parish have voted against them. Why? Are the roads great? No, and some can barely be called roads. But the residents made it clear that they do not want to fund road repairs, or maybe they didn’t understand what was at stake for themselves and others. Maybe it just looked like another tax. Maybe they needed better explanations about what the benefits of voting for roads would be.
What, however, did the residents vote for? Funding the library. And the Natchitoches Parish Library has become an incredible example of everything a library can and should be. Now some say that libraries will someday become a thing of the past, but that is not true. Modern libraries and librarians do so much more than lend out books. Look at the number of computers available for anyone to use. Look at the safe study spaces for children and students so that they can work on schoolwork and get tutoring, if they need help. Look at the public programming the library offers to meet the needs and interests of the residents. You can check out a hotspot from the library if your internet goes down. They provide a service to those who cannot physically get to the library by shipping or delivering books and dvds and other materials to them. The Natchitoches Parish Library serves everyone – those with resources and those without, children, teens, and adults. The library saw the need for more positive and productive and entertaining things for teens to do in Natchitoches and stepped up by offering afternoon events for teens on a regular basis, and that is an incredible service to this community. This is why the residents voted to fund the library, and they are getting so much more in return for the investment.
Just because one entity in this parish is working well is no reason to gut it so that it cannot continue to meet the changing needs of the residents. Computers have become necessary for most everything, but they are expensive, and they don’t last as long as books do. The Book Mobile brings resources all over this big parish of ours. You know what regular vehicles cost – imagine the cost to maintain and fill that machine. Imagine the cost of replacing it.
Taking half of the library’s money is just too much. Maybe it would be better if the Parish Council could learn from the library’s example and do a better job of communicating to the parish residents why they should vote for roads, but taking funds away from something that is working so well just makes no sense.