Friends join to ‘Love Your Library’

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is welcomed by Friends of the Library members to the Evangeline Downs Event Center where their annual luncheon and membership drive was held Tuesday. (photo courtesy of

Hundreds of library supporters came together Tuesday with Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne to promote libraries in general and a push to create a parishwide public library system in particular.

Dardenne was in town primarily to speak about the state’s 200th birthday party during the Friends of the Library’s annual Love Your Library luncheon on Valentine’s Day, but he chimed in on the importance of local libraries.

“We are here to celebrate reading, celebrate knowledge and celebrate libraries,” Dardenne told the crowd, pointing out the most recent census figure showing that almost 50 percent of Louisiana residents don’t have access to computers at home.

“That means 50 percent of our residents need libraries to download information. Without strong libraries, our chances of moving off the bottom of all those negative lists are very meager,” Dardenne said.

Gerald Patout, president of the Friends of the Opelousas-Eunice Public Library System, said libraries are more important than ever, especially in a parish such as St. Landry, which has both a high illiteracy rate and an alarming high school dropout rate.

Patout’s day job is being the head of the Ledoux Library on the campus of LSU-Eunice.