Over a thousand people bustled through the Free Book Festival at the Downtown Hammond Library this Saturday. No matter the age, interests or demographic, the library provided an ample selection of books to browse through and bring home for free. There was a family-friendly atmosphere that included games and activities, free food and drink, a genealogy booth for tracing family histories and authors signing their published works.
One of the main attractions was the Discovery Dome, an inflatable room for the children to watch a simulation of the night sky while listening to a storyteller. Also for the kids was face painting, Dance Dance Revolution interaction games, arts and crafts bracelet making and a stage for the kids to dance while their parents supervised. Southeastern’s KSLU 90.9 FM radio station provided the music for the event. Bridget Gary, a KSLU employee, said she volunteered to be the DJ for the event because she loves “playing with the kids, dancing around and free coffee.”
Outside of the library, a few tents were set up for everyone to relax and enjoy free hamburgers and hotdogs along with free drinks. Firemen also gave the children tours of all the rooms and compartments of an actual fire truck.
According to Barry Bradford, director of the Tangipahoa Parish Library, the Free Book Festival is typically hosted at the state library. However, their funding was cut by legislature, so they did not have enough money to conduct the festival this year. This prompted Bradford to have a local event in Hammond.
Bradford said that the Tangipahoa Library had three goals: to promote literacy, reach out to the community, and to make the library experience fun. “Anyone can get a library card for free,” said Bradford. “They can check out the materials for free, and we have programs that are free.” He emphasized that the Tangipahoa library’s creed is everyone deserves free access to information. Tangipahoa libraries are open 8:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. The Tangipahoa libraries are always available at www.tangilibrary.com.