Golden Meadow library opens Hispanic section

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The first Hispanic library section in the Tri-parishes has opened in the Golden Meadow library, and los materiales y los servicios están ahora disponibles (materials and services are now available).

“Libraries transform lives by providing patrons the tools needed to compete and thrive in a 21st century marketplace,” said Lafourhce Parish Library Director Susanna Lebouef said. “Our goal is for the 3,800 Hispanics living in the parish to have the tools to learn English so they too will become successful citizens of Lafourche parish.”

More than 30 Lafourche Parish library employees were on hand earlier this month for the event, which was hosted in conjunction with National Library Week.

“We worked really hard to get this open,” Lebouef said. “The idea came about last April after we had work done at the Thibodaux Library. We had extra furniture, and they had an extra room here. We have also had many requests for Spanish material at the libraries.”

Lebouef credits an increase in Hispanic library patronage and the new addition to the parish’s only bi-lingual employee and Spanish Outreach Coordinator, Maria Mendieta.

“Maria does Hispanic story times at different locations throughout the parish. She was getting more and more requests to put on additional story times from the Hispanics in South Lafourche,” Lebouef said. “When members of our Hispanic population would come in to use our computers, they would ask for Maria. There was need to expand.”

In addition to having a permanent home for Hispanic story time, the new section of the library will also feature more than 1,000 volumes, ranging from bilingual books for school children and fiction and non-fiction for adults. Hispanic videos are also available.

For those wishing to check out Hispanic books at other parish locations, the library circulates books from branch to branch on three day a week route. According to Lebouef, requests books will usually be filled in a day and half to two days at their local library.

“We want to do everything we can to help preserve the Spanish language and help teach English to those who wish to learn it,” Lebouef said. “We will have story times, literacy training and the first adult programs currently being planned for Cinco de Mayo.”

The Biblioteca Hispana is open Monday to Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m.

“We usually have about 30 kids at the children’s story times,” Mendieta, a native Bolivian, said. “We want our children to learn English, the sooner the better, but we don’t want them to lose their native language. Our children’s book selection is not just dedicated to the Spanish culture, but other South American cultures as well.”

Mendieta, who has been living in the United States for 12 years and been an employee of the Lafourche Library system for three years, noted that many English-speaking children visit the library during story times to learn Spanish as well.

“We help to introduce them to the language, and I teach two new Spanish words at each story time,” Mendieta said. “It is best to teach them when they are children because they are like sponges. We have lots of Hispanic children visiting the library, and the ladies come in to use the computers for the Internet and to fax and scan things. Men like coming in with their children and reading the books to them.”

According to Mendieta, the library hopes to start conducting English As a Second Language classes in the near future.

“This is a nice place to raise children, and it is safe,” Mendieta said. “My two children – a 14-year-old and a college student – plan to visit the in library soon.”

Lebouef shares Medieta’s love of the South Lafourche region and anticipate a bright outlook for the library’s newest addition.

“Yankee Bayou, renamed Golden Meadow for the fields of golden rods, is a community of hard working people dedicated to preserving family values,” Lebouef said. “I view this library as a newly cultivated garden in the Golden Meadows along Bayou Lafourche. It is brightly colorful with space to grow. We have a great staff who will work hard to encourage and welcome patrons.”

Susanna Lebouef, library director for the Lafourche Parish libraries, speaks during the opening ceremony for the Biblioteca Hispana, the only Hispanic library section in the Tri-parish area. There are more than 3,800 Hispanic residents in Lafourche Parish.