The Many Cultural District Advisory Committee and Mayor Ken Freeman set important goals to bring culture and entertainment including movies, music, and creative classes to Many citizens.
The first goal was the renovation and restoration of the old Sabine Theatre to convert it to a community center. That goal was met 3 years ago, and the Many Community Center is now the site of free movies twice each month, at least one music show every month, as well as plays, pageants, choral groups and other entertainment.
A second goal was the installation of book nooks, providing free books in little lending libraries scattered throughout Many’s Cultural District. It too has now been fulfilled. City workers installed the 12 book nooks in March.
Nancy Richard, a member of the Cultural District Advisory Committee, was in charge of the year-long project. She worked hard to develop specific plans and scouted out locations. SARC carpenters built the book nooks, with Richard closely monitoring their progress.
“Nancy was the perfect choice for this extensive project,” said Mary Brocato, chairperson of the Cultural District Advisory Committee. “She loves books, is an avid reader, and an extremely well organized person. I knew she would bring this ambitious project to completion and that it would be perfectly done. And that’s exactly what this hardworking volunteer did for our town. When you see Nancy, please be sure to thank her. I really don’t believe we would have these wonderful book nooks if not for Nancy’s hard work and dedication.”
Talented members of the Depot Art Gallery primped and painted the little houses with literary themes. Shanna Gaspard, president of the Depot Art Guild, said the project was work but also a lot of fun. Gaspard’s granddaughter Victoria even joined in the fun.
Generous donors made it financially possible to build the book nooks. They are Southern Parts Warehouse, Betty Kaye Miller, Jenkins Logging, District Attorney Don Burkett, Mayor and Mrs. Ken Freeman, State Representative Frankie Howard, Judge Elizabeth Pickett, Boise Cascade, Lewis McBryde Real Estate, Amanda Lambert, Foy Motor Company, Boise Cascade, and one anonymous donor.
Project Celebration building
Sabine Medical Center
Behind the Methodist Church at the Boy Scout Hut
Bethel Baptist Church
New Jerusalem Baptist Church
Many Police Station
LSU Agriculture Center
Sabine Bank Building/old post office
Judge Elizabeth Pickett’s office
Sabine Parish Courthouse
Lou’s Candles and Gifts
“It’s not the job of the sponsors or the monitors to place books in the free lending libraries. If people only take books and never bring any to the little libraries, then this effort won’t work. So please take a book, but leave a book too,” emphasized Brocato.
“t’s been a real community effort to bring these book nooks to Many,” Mayor Freeman said. “We want to encourage reading among people of all ages. This is one special and fun way that we can do that in our hometown.”
Freeman remarked that the project has been extremely successful in Vernon Parish and has book nooks throughout the historical district of Leesville and several small towns throughout Vernon Parish. “That is what we hope will happen here in Sabine Parish,” concluded Freeman. “Book Nooks in every community of Sabine Parish. That’s what we’d like to see.”
One measure as to whether people are using the book nooks is that books, especially children’s books, seem to disappear from the nooks very quickly after being placed in them.
Brocato said she monitors the Sabine Medical Center’s book nook. “I can put books in the little library on a Monday afternoon, and many of them are gone by the next day,” she said. “I think that means that people are taking books to read.”
People who wish to donate books are encouraged to drop them off at any of the book nooks located around town or Many City Hall. As the shelves in the book nooks empty, a member of the Cultural District Committee will replace them with more good books to read.
Now that the book nooks are installed, the committee and Mayor Freeman have begun work on a third goal: the renovation and conversion of the historic old Many Depot into a true Historical Museum. They are hoping to complete this ambitious project by early 2019.