Vernon Library preserves local history

Published 12:05 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Vernon Parish Public Library is a hub for the local community and actively works to preserve rare and unique items that showcase the community’s history.

Caitlin McKee is the library archivist and recently spoke to the Leesville Leader about the many different historical items the library has in its archive. She saidt it is the library’s goal to preserve local history, and to make it accessible to the community.

“We want to keep history alive,” McKee said. “We want to keep the history of Vernon Parish alive for future generations, and have people remember where we came from.”

The library curates special-themed exhibits that are free and open for public viewing. The theme of the latest exhibit is “Odds and Ends.” The exhibit shows a variety of items from the archive that come from different collections.

One of the unique items on display is an antique stereoscope with the viewing cards. Those visiting the exhibit can look through the stereoscope and see the vintage photographs. Also featured prominently in the exhibit are items from the Dolores Owens collection.

Owens lived in Leesville and donated many different things to the library archive. Historic photos, a household management book from 1912, and a chemistry notebook dating back to 1911 are just some of the rare treasures on display at the library.

There are also tickets and teen ticket booklets from the Vernon Theatre on display from the Tom Leonard collection. Leonard worked as a projectionist at the theatre and donated the items to the archive to preserve its memory for generations to come.

Another unique piece on display is a piece of lumber that was milled by the Vernon Parish Lumber company that dates back to 1903. McKee noted that the wood was used to build a home in Kansas, and made its way back to Vernon Parish after being donated to the library.

McKee said it is her desire to spark the interest of the local community with exhibits like these. The exhibits rotate and change every two months and have varying themes. Themes in the past have included items related to schools, the military, and local churches.

Residents are also encouraged to bring in their historical items regardless of what they might be.

“We are always looking to expand our archives collection. It doesn’t matter what it is,” McKee said. “If it’s old, we want it.”

McKee also noted that those who do not want to give the library their old photographs, can have them copied for the archive, as well.

For more information on the archive or how to donate items, visit the Vernon Parish Public Library at 1401 Nolan Trace or call them at 337-239-2027.