Monday, June 17, 2024

Bossier History: Anna P. Tooke Memorial Library Branch: Worth the Wait

by BPT Staff
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Until the past few weeks when the new Bossier Central Complex Library opened in Bossier City, the newest building in the Bossier Parish library system was the Koran community’s Anna P. Tooke Memorial Library, a modern building nestled in the woods close to Lake Bistineau. This lovely building had come a long way from the original Koran community branch library, the system’s southernmost branch, which was a parked, defunct, converted-Ford bookmobile, that provided no seating, toilets, heat or reliable cooling, and was located on an old dumpsite. 

Pam Carlisle | Bossier Parish History Center

The parish government (police jury) paid to move the immobile bookmobile to the former dumpsite, where it was parked next to a dumpster. In the early 1980’s the American Legion approved moving the old bookmobile to their land on Highway 527 near Johnson Koran Road. Circulation went up in this more visible location. 

Finally, a mobile building replaced the bookmobile in 1987. Even as a temporary utility building that was only 616 square feet, it was a major upgrade, boasting quadrupled book capacity, room for four child-size seats chairs and four adult patron seats, and magazine racks. It also had a heating and cooling system, but still, no bathroom. When that was needed, there was a convenience store nearby. If the staff member needed to run to the store’s facilities, they’d just put up a temporarily closed sign. And like in the parked book mobile, it was only open one day a week, Wednesdays. Storytimes were packed, and patrons appreciated the personal attention of library staff member Ms. Nita, who would have a stack of books waiting for them, based on her knowledge of their personal preferences. The community clamored for better facilities, but no land to put it on was forthcoming.

In 2012, police juror Bob Brotherton decided he and his cousins could change that. They agreed to donate three acres of land on Fairview Point Road, near Camp Joy Road to the Bossier Parish Police Jury for a library in memory of their grandmother, Anna P. Tooke. Mrs. Tooke had been a teacher in Haughton of English and Library Science for almost 40 years and who had raised Mr. Brotherton in a book-filled home. The library on this land was constructed for the Koran and Elm Grove communities in 2014. The branch opened to the public in Spring 2015 along with a playground, covered patio with outdoor tables, and a walking path, which the Tooke descendants hoped would make the library not only a place to get books and information, but also a community gathering spot.

Almost right away, the Anna P. Tooke Memorial Library served its purpose as a community center when the library served as a sandbag distribution center during bad flooding in Koran in 2015. During the Covid lockdowns of 2020, the Tooke library parking lot became a spot for bingo games, with players staying in their vehicles for social distancing. It also hosts scenic Easter egg hunts on the playground, patio and other areas of the property. 

The striking building, with its large windows, features deep overhangs from the sloping roof that eases the visual impact on the surrounding landscape of fields and forest, and blends the indoor and outdoor spaces. The building contains natural sustainable materials and passive solar elements to ease its environmental impact, too. For these special elements, the building’s architect, Prevot Design Services won the American Institute of Architects Shreveport Honor Award in December, 2015.

If you have any stories, photos or other information relating to the history of Bossier Parish libraries, or of Bossier Parish citizens who have contributed to community life in Bossier, the History Center may be interested in adding the materials to its research collection by donation or by scanning them and returning the originals. Call or visit us to learn more. We are open M-Th 9-8, Fri 9-6, and Sat 9-5. Our phone number is (318) 746-7717 and our email is [email protected]. We can also be found online at https://www.facebook.com/BPLHistoryCenter/

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