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Politics

Bossier Parish dedicates new library in Elm Grove pasture, honors beloved Haughton educator

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A family of Bossier Parish educators dedicated a modern architecture library Thursday set on a bucolic rural road in Elm Grove, La. The $1.9 million Anna P. Tooke Memorial Library is the seventh in the Bossier Parish Library System. The 3,600 square-foot library boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and is nestled in a grove of trees on three acres of farmland.

It’s a stark contrast to the metal shack that served the community for decades, according to Bossier Parish Police Jury president Jack “Bump” Skaggs.

“We want people to look forward to coming to Bossier City/Bossier Parish to work, live and play. It’s libraries like this that just blow your mind when you walk out here. How many libraries can you basically sit in the woods under a nice wooden canopy with a cup of coffee and a magazine and watch your grandkids play on a playground? Pretty impressive, I think,” Skaggs said.

Anna P. Tooke was a schoolteacher for 36 years, starting in a one-room schoolhouse in South Louisiana. She taught seventh grade in Haughton near her roots in Bossier Parish.

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Credit Kate Archer Kent
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The grandson she raised, Bob Brotherton, spoke of her expansive book collection and how she taught children about the three B’s – Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Brotherton followed in her footsteps and taught at Haughton for 33 years. When he was elected to the Bossier Parish Police Jury four years ago, he inquired about how to replace the Koran community’s tiny, insufficient library.

“One of the first questions we asked was: When are we going to do something about enlarging the library? Well, we can’t find land. That’s when the lightbulb went off. My family has a lot of land. If I can talk my cousins into doing this and naming it after our grandmother and honoring her, maybe they’ll go for it,” Brotherton said, who was surrounded by family, many of which are educators.

Library director Heather McEntee said many people in rural areas lack Internet access. She says this library has six computers and will offer programs throughout the week.

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Credit Kate Archer Kent
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A photo display at the entrance shows the transformation of the rural library from its beginning in the 1970s.