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'BOOK BRIGADE' MOVING MANSURA LIBRARY
Volunteers form a “book brigade” line to move books from the former Mansura library branch to its new home in the Train Depot Museum. The event was held May 25 as a fun way to get the job done and to get the commuunity involved in their public library. {Photo courtesy of Theresa Thevenote}

‘Book Brigade’ moves Mansura library -- one book at a time

Who would have thought standing in the late spring heat could be so much fun?

Almost 50 people turned out to fill a spot on the “Book Brigade” line that relocated the former Mansura library branch to its new home in the Train Depot Museum -- one book at a time.

Mansura town officials started negotiations with library and Police Jury officials about 18 months ago to arrange for the library to share space in the old train depot, which was remodeled with a federal transportation grant.

On May 25 all of the remodeling for the museum and the preparations for the library were rewarded with the hands-on relocation of the branch’s books.

“I thought it would be a lot of fun and a way for the community to be involved in the library,” Avoyelles Library System Director Theresa Thevenote said.

“The two buildings are so close together that I thought instead of boxing the books in the old building, bringing them over to the new one and unboxing them to put them on the shelves, we could take the books directly from the shelves and pass them down the line to the proper place in the new one,” Thevenote said.

The system was modeled on the old “bucket brigade line” used by citizens of a community to combat fires in the old days. Everyone formed a line and passed the bucket of water to the next person, with the last one in line tossing the water on the fire.

‘DIDN’T WANT TO STOP’

“We had so much fun that we really didn't want to stop,” said “Book Brigade” participant Vickie Mayeux, of Longbridge.

Mayor Kenneth Pickett said the town owes a debt of gratitude to the hard work of the late Connie Ducote, who served on the Town Council and spearheaded the efforts on the depot renovation project.

“Things prosper and grow through joint ventures,” Pickett said. “We are not divided by municipalities. We are all one.”

Pickett said the relocation of the library branch “was made possible through a joint venture for our greatest asset, our future, our children.”

Police Juror Glenn McKinley, who represents the Mansura area, began the effort to upgrade the library branch several years ago. At one time, the leading contender for the new site was the town-owned "Cleco" building. When Mansura finally received a promised grant to remodel the historic depot, thoughts turned to housing the library in that building.

Police Juror Marsha Wiley, who serves as the jury’s liaison to the Library Board, said Thevenote “outdid herself on the creative process of transferring the books from the old building to the new.”

Wiley said there are many individuals and groups responsible for the branch’s new home.

“The renovations are very nice and Avoyelles Parish and Mansura have additional bragging rights for this historic site, the old railroad depot,” she said. “I am very proud of being part of another great reason to visit our great parish.”

Longtime Library Board President Marina Gagic called the event “a celebration, very festive -- and the new library is beautiful.”

In addition to being a fun way to accomplish a necessary task, Thevenote said the event was “unique and historic.”

“It's not often that a library gets to move books directly from one location to another in this manner,” she said. “I was so impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the volunteers.”

Thevenote said the “Book Brigade” members ranged in age from a toddler to senior citizens. They also came from communities across the parish.

It was fitting, she said, because “it is so representative of the services offered by the library,” she added.

“I'm sure we will never again get to participate in anything like this, so I am very grateful.” 

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