Lafourche Parish Public Library History
Amended Nov 9, 2016
The Lafourche Parish Public Library was created in 1935 by Parish Ordinance #667. We were the 25th library demonstration project of Louisiana State Library. Under the Library Demonstration Program, the State Library established parish libraries supported initially by state funding. These became locally supported following the demonstration period.
In Lafourche, the parish residents approved a 2-mill tax to fund the library.
During the first two years, the library opened eight branches and began bookmobile operations.
In 1955 the Lafourche Parish Public Library system earned the Louisiana Library Association’s Modisette Award as the outstanding parish library in the state.
In the 1960s the Library acquired its Headquarters building, located in the old post office building in Thibodaux. It experienced its largest ever circulation, serving the public as well as schools, which had no libraries at that time. The first in a series of successful National Library Week Programs was conducted.
The 1970s saw a boom economy and growing population in Lafourche Parish. Despite this, Library services grew slowly. Bookmobile operations ceased following a period of increased costs, reflecting a trend seen elsewhere in the state. This decade saw the merger of the Carver Branch with the Thibodaux Main Branch.
In early 1980s Larose and Lockport Branches moved into new multipurpose facilities financed with state and federal money. In 1985, the Larose and Cut Off Branches were consolidated. A building drive for a new Thibodaux Branch was spearheaded by its Friends group resulting in the Martha Sowell Utley Memorial Library, located in the National Park Service’s Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center. In 1987 a small millage increase was acquired for operations and a Bookmobile was purchased in 1992.
The current period may prove the most challenging in the Library’s history. New technology in electronics, video, communications and automation carries great potential for the Library. Changes in the lifestyle and character of the population require adjustments by the Library. Decisions about book and non-book needs, equipment requirements, and program objectives must be made in order to meet the needs of the new century.
However, this does not deter the librarians and staff of Lafourche Parish Public Libraries. In 2016, the library received the James O. Modisette Award for Library of the Year. This award is given to a public library that shows growth and sustainability, while serving its residents to the best of its abilities.
Although the past 80 years have been interesting and challenging, the next 80 will be even more so as the Lafourche Parish Public Library strives for a bright and promising future.