Dr. Linda LeBert-Corbello
Summer was so fast and furious that I cannot believe the wonderful days of hearing all the children laughing, singing and participating in our many programs throughout the parish are done! The programs were so incredible and the crowds were the largest ever! There were over 2080 children attending 56 programs throughout the parish. Since Jennings Headquarters branch was in the process of renovations, we were pleased to have been given permission to stage performances at The Strand and at the Jeff Davis Parish School Board Media Center. Vera Abraham worked with the library to coordinate a program that allowed for the community children in Jennings, Elton and Fenton to receive a meal after attending a library program! What a dear Ms. Vera is to us …and of course to the people of this parish. She is always searching for a way to help another individual. There were plenty of community sponsors that assisted each library branch in some way or other. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to the parish for supporting the 2014 Summer Reading Program. Thank you so very much. Every employee in our system assisted in some way for the Summer Reading Programs carrying food, assisting with children, cleaning after a program or performing for the children. Jeff Davis Parish employees are outstanding! Thank you to Theresa Campbell, Children’s Coordinator, for organizing various components of the Summer Reading Program.
The library programs could not run effectively without the outstanding work of all employees. I am grateful for employees who work tirelessly to reach the needs of the patrons of this parish. Our Mobile Branch continues its very excellent work as an “Outreach” of the library. Recently, Ms. Kathy LeJeune and Ms. Kay Hebert extended their services to Bayou Villa by providing an FYI class. They will provide a class once a monthly. Our employees stated that the people at Bayou Villa were so appreciative for the program entitled: “Homemade Hand Lotions.” The fun and fellowship brightened everyone’s day.
In speaking about employees, I am always amazed at the talent and the generosity of spirit I witness in our employees. Recently our McBurney Memorial Branch Assistant Librarian Jean Stoute, who also works at the Hampton, was given special recognition by being awarded the Spirit of Hampton Award from Hilton Worldwide. Ms. Jean was considered a gem as one customer stated: “…people like this wonderful Ms. Jean are rare these days. It is almost impossible to get a smile from some. There are so many duds that when there is a gem among them it should be acknowledged.” A co-worker stated, “Every time I come to work, if my mood isn’t what it should be, it quickly changes when I converse with Ms. Jean.” Yet another stated, “We wish the world had more people like Ms. Jean.” We as a library family are proud of Ms. Jean’s accomplishment. More than that, we are so grateful that she is one of us…a daily inspiration of hope and good will.
Renovations are incredibly beautiful. Completion date is set for September 2, 2014. New shelving and furniture will be delivered beginning next Friday, the 29th of August. After all shelving is in place, the tedious task of moving books out of storage will begin. September will be filled with much hard work and it will all be done in the spirit of joy for our newest work environment. The decisions about colors, furnishings and other changes were made after much discussion and input from employees. All employees are eager to share this wonderful renovation. A Grand Re-Opening will take place in October. Please watch your newspaper and our new digital sign that will be posting the upcoming event.
February Librarian’s Lines include the presentation given on the occasion of the 40th year that the McBurney Memorial Library building has served the public. It is the third and final home of library services in Welsh, Louisiana. Dr. Linda LeBert-Corbello lived in Welsh and was able to utilize each library building….she shares her memories of Welsh and the thrill of having a library.
Welsh Public Library
When a parish wide tax failed in Welsh for a free public library in 1927, citizens united with Miss Essae M. Cullver, Executive Secretary of the Louisiana Library Commission ,and Hon. J.O. Modisette, President of the Louisiana Library Commission and a Jennings lawyer. These two people met with the Board of Trustees for the Town of Welsh in the Masonic Hall in July 1929. A decision was made that if Welsh could provide a fund that would maintain a library, the Louisiana Library Commission would send 500 loaned volumes to serve as Welsh’s first public and free library. According to historical records, the Town Board agreed to a one mill reduction on other taxes in order not to raise anyone’s taxes. The ordinance adopted on September 4, 1929 read:
“A Proposition to levy and assess and collect annually a one mill tax on all of the assessed and assessable property of the Town of Welsh, Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, for a period of five years, beginning with the year 1929 and ending with the year 1933, for the purpose of supporting, operating, and maintaining a municipal, free public library in the Town of Welsh, Louisiana, title to which shall vest in the public.”
These efforts resulted in a fund of $900 a year to pay the librarian and buy new books and magazines. The Library Board was established and consisted of:
- Mrs. A. R. McBurney, President
- Dr. B.J. LaCour, Vice-President
- Mrs. R. R. Arceneaux, Secretary
- Mrs. W.E. Faught, Treasurer
- S.E. Carroll
- Mrs. Laura Mae Kimball, Librarian.
- Ex-officio members included: John W. Armstrong, Mayor of Welsh, Mr. P.E. Wilson, Principal of Welsh High School and Miss Mary Yantis, Chairman of the Book Selection Committee.
The library was opened on February 25, 1930. The State Library Commission loaned 500 volumes to Welsh City Hall to serve as Welsh’s first public and free library. During the first year the following statistics were kept:
- 3462 adult books checked out.
- 3342 children’s books were checked out.
As a personal note, I was born in 1951 and lived in Welsh. I remember the court house square. City Hall was a beautiful massive building set in the middle of the location of the present police & fire station. I remember walking to the library with my Mom and siblings and noting the signs posted on the grass surrounding the library: KEEP OFF GRASS! I was amazed because even in the heat of summer the City Hall grass was always green. I also vividly remember walking into the City Hall to the back of the building where the books were kept. I remember the smell of that room like it was yesterday. Wonderful smell of books…lots of books. We were each allowed to check out only two books. Being one of seven siblings gave us an edge in that we would often share the books with each other after reading our own. I would have been 8 years old when the library was then moved to the Home Economics Building in June 1959. Documents state that Miss Essae M. Culver, State Librarians and Louisiana dignitaries attended the October Open House.
The new library became my new favorite. It seemed like a real house of books. We still walked to the library (my Mother never drove a car). Sometimes, my older sisters would be the ones to walk us to the library on those very hot summer days. I can still feel the hot blacktop road against my feet and the hot stones & rails along the railroad tracks. The new building must have meant more books because I can remember thinking…how will I ever read all of these books? I remember spending one summer reading every biography in a series that were blue-green with red lettering for the titles. How I loved reading of Florence Nightingale, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and so many others.
Another pleasant memory of our library visits included visiting the Busy Bee Café and getting an ice cream cone on the way home. I felt like a special little girl sitting on a red bar stood waiting my turn. Ice cream cones were only for special times, not every time we went to the library….boy were they not the best I ever had? I still smell the scent of the Busy Bee Café and I am sure my fellow Welsh Citizens remember it also. It was like Mom’s best cooking and Christmas day cooking all wrapped together in a neat package.
In 1968 the Welsh Library became a part of the Parish Library System. Mrs. A.R. McBurney was one of the first members of the Library Board.
Mayor Jimmy Martin, who was also representative-elect of Jeff Davis Parish, appeared before the Police Jury and stated that the Welsh Town Council would donate the site for the library building if the Police Jury would take over paving payments that would decrease each year and be completely paid within ten years. This was accepted by the Police Jury. The current building was built at a cost of $80,000. It was financed by 60% of federal monies secured by the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury and the remaining 40% donated by Mrs. A. R. McBurney as a memorial to her deceased husband A.R. McBurney and her deceased son Dr. William McBurney. The building was built on the corner section of the property with the plans for a tie in with the ultimate construction of a Welsh Civic Center. The building was renovated in 2010 to re-purpose the building for technology changes, appropriate functionality of the building for all ages and all events and general updating for a more modern décor.
This library has a total 14,256 holdings that include books, books on cassette, books on CDs, DVDs, e-books, music CDs, paperbacks, video games, laptop computers for check out and so much more. Databases on our website allow for incredible research possibilities. Last year a total of 11, 527 items were checked out. Denice Sonnier is an incredible manager providing so many new ideas for sharing with patrons. Patrick Guillory is a creative Children’s facilitator and assistant manager. We thank them both for the excellent services they provide for the people of Jefferson Davis Parish.
As I researched the information on the progress of your library system I have to tell you how very honored I was when I read that Mrs. Culver and Mr. Modisette aided our citizens in Welsh in their efforts to establish the first public library in Welsh. Why? Both of these prominent people who are now deceased have awards in their name that are presented by the Louisiana Library Association.
Jefferson Davis Parish Library received the Modisette Award in 2008 for the most improved library system in the state over a two year period. It was a grand evening in Shreveport when I stood at the podium accepting that award on behalf of all the work accomplished in our library system.
Today reminds me that our work makes a difference in the lives of our patrons. It was so kind and so very wise to take time to celebrate such victory for Welsh and its library. Thank you so very much.
Librarian’s Lines Dr. Linda LeBert-Corbello August 2012
“Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark… in any library in the world I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.” (Germaine Greer)
What a profound statement! I believe that my employees and I share this sentiment when it comes to our workplace. Not only do we provide reservoirs of strength, grace and wit as mentioned above, but we continue to build our repositories of books, materials and services for the patrons of Jefferson Davis Parish.
In recent years, I have enlisted the assistance of all library personnel in obtaining new materials for our collection. I firmly believe that the individual branch managers know their patrons within their local communities. This has greatly increased the progress in the book collections at all library branches including our Mobile Branch.
While assisting with processing of books, I just was so pleased at the choices that each branch manager selected. I could not possibly detail the many hundreds of books added to the collection this summer. However, I thought that I could highlight a few titles that would be of interest at this time of year. With the approach of a new school year, adults and children alike embark on the journey of returning to school or universities to increase their knowledge base. Here are a few titles to maybe tempt you to step inside our doors. We would love to be at your service. These are just a taste …so many other delicious titles await you!
For the student (adult or child):
Writing the AP English Essay
SAT Subject Test Literature (practice tests)
5 TEAS Practice Tests (Nursing)
Multiplication & Division
For the Job Seeker:
Resumes for Dummies
Computer for Seniors
Managing and Troubleshooting Networks
Letterhead & Logo Design 11
The Big Book of Jobs
For the Hunter:
Standard catalog of Handguns
Shotgunning for Deer
For those who have time for fun:
Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating
Digital Painting Tricks and Techniques
Complete Colored Pencil Book
Hot Rod Wiring
Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists
All of our titles are available to all patrons. If you come to Jennings and the book is housed at another library, know that we can have that book to you as soon as possible. This is true at all library branches. All anyone has to do is request a title from the librarian. We aim to please. Come visit us and allow yourself to be still and absorbed in our collection. We are having such fun, are you?