Franklin Parish Library welcomed patrons to the library's new Genealogy/Local History Room on Thursday, Aug. 21, when ribbon cutting ceremonies and an open house event were held.
The library, which operates under the Franklin Parish Police Jury, recently acquired what is known as the Landis building on Prairie Street. The site for the new center is located adjacent to the library’s main building and was purchased from Betty M. McLemore, whose grandfather H.B. Landis ran a mercantile store from the site and served as mayor of the Town of Winnsboro.
The completion of the new addition brings to fruition a long-time dream and vision of Luella V. Snyder, president of the library's Board of Controllers,
During remarks at the opening ceremonies, the board's vice president, John M. Guice, who was given the task of overseeing the renovations and construction, gave tribute to Snyder and her vision. Other board members are Jeannette Thompson, Addie Bolton, Dr. Bill Marionneaux and Ricky Campbell, ex-officio.
"The definition of a good leader is one who provides vision, who sees beyond the present and over the next hill," he said of Snyder. He noted her love of local history and people and her desire to preserve that history for future generations.
"She has dedicated her life to that purpose," he said.
"This is a dream come true. We are happy to be able to provide this facility to the people of Franklin Parish and to people who will come here from other places to use it," Snyder said.
The addition of the building to the library's facilities also fulfills a desire by its former owner to preserve the building for future generations.
"It is such a thrill to know that this building with its historic background will be put to use for posterity," McLemore said about its new-found purpose.
The new center is also bringing to light a part of the library which many people may not have known existed.
"A lot of people have been coming in who didn't realize we had a genealogy section. It's very exciting," library director Carolyn Flint said.
Plans for the new center began about eight months ago, Flint said. Flint gave credit to the library's staff for their work on an ongoing basis and for helping with the development of the center.
"One of the things I am most grateful for is the staff. Without the staff we have the library would not be what it is today," she said.
Members of the library staff include Dale Berry, June Chapman, Barbara Daggs, Jean Lemos, Kathy Muckelrath, Onie Parker, Jan Roberts, Janis Smith, Lynn Strahan and Bobbie Temple.
Flint also noted that the development of the center required training and advice on how to be able to store and handle fragile historic documents. She expressed appreciation to Rebecca Hamilton, state librarian; Charlotte Pringle, library consultant; and Charlene Bonnette, preservation librarian.
Renovations transformed the building into a state-of-the-art center which is climate controlled and has special lighting to protect the documents it will house.
Regarding the construction project, Guice said that while an architect drew the basic plan, the day-to-day process brought many challenges, particularly because the building was built just after the turn of the century.
"We persevered with lots and lots of people who offered advice," he said.
He expressed appreciation to cabinet builder Dank Thomas, construction supervisor Dalton Wiltshire, Sheriff Kevin Cobb and Trey Kiper of Kiper Hardware.
He also noted that the library staff had stepped in as well whenever needed, even picking up paint brushes.
"It was really a team effort," Guice said.
"But most of all we want to thank you, our patrons," he added.
The library is funded by a separate millage, currently 7.25 mills. However, Guice noted that expansions to the library, including the main building, the Learning Center, and now this latest addition, have all been done without additional taxes.
The Police Jury owns the new building and the City of Winnsboro owns the buildings housing the main branch and Learning Center, allowing the library to use the property under a 99-year lease.
The new addition includes a public area and an area accessible only by staff. Criteria are being developed for submission of items to be housed at the library.