Nestled among several rural communities where fishing, rodeo, hunting, and reading are favorite pastimes, the Hineston Branch of the Rapides Parish Library System prides itself on providing a "down home," inviting atmosphere. Serving the needs of its customers has been the library's primary goal since it first opened its doors in the summer of 1984. Local residents Mr. and Mrs. Ed Townley donated the land on which the library was located, and Louisiana State Police Troop, Region III, donated the building, which was renovated for use as a library. Without generous donations from these local residents and the Louisiana State Police, the opening might never have happened.
In 2008 the Hineston Branch moved into its new building at 1810 Highway 121, on part of the property that held the Fair Oaks Nursing Home, donated by Mr. Teddy Price. At 4000 square feet, the new facility is more than double the size of the old branch. It features a meeting room and computer lab. The nursing home building and land north of it were sold off, leaving more than an acre for the current and potential needs of the branch.
For children and teenagers, the library offers several special programs, including a summer reading program, various workshops, and educational activities.
1810 Hwy 121,
Hineston, LA 71438
Monday & Saturday 9:00-1:00
Wednesday & Friday 9:00-1:00 & 2:00-6:00
Manager: Donna Crawford
The area known as Hineston, Louisiana has a long and colorful history. The first documented inhabitants of this beautiful hill country in Central Louisiana were two Indian tribes, The Attakapa, a cannibalistic group who roamed up and down the local waterway, the Calcasieu, and the Choctaws, who inhabited a large village in the Hicks area. The rich alluvial soil was perfect for the peaceful farming tribe of Choctaws and the abundant wildlife provided a protein rich diet for the more aggressive Attakapa.
As time went on, probably around 1806, while our country and Spain were in a heated land dispute concerning the Louisiana Purchase, something called the Neutral Strip came into being. By agreement, neither country could send civilian or military authorities into the strip for law enforcement reasons. This area, once populated by the aforementioned Native Americans and a few pioneer families, became an international scandal, as it became a haven for outlaws. Around 1820, during the heyday of this strip, Hineston was born. In fact, it was born because of the strip. It was started primarily for the purpose of serving those who lived in this Zone. Mr. William Hines is credited with establishing a mercantile store, which became a nucleus for other businesses, which began to appear and prosper. Some of them were a gristmill, a cotton gin, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop and a race track. Through all the years, Hineston has survived, while many other small hamlets have disappeared from the American landscape. It was, and has continued to be, a community resource center for a population who from its inception, didn’t “cotton to strangers.”
Early education in this area was supplied by faithful teachers in a two room school, where most of the students dropped out after the third grade, as they were needed as laborers on their family farms. Textbooks were tattered and rare. Books for pleasure reading were nearly nonexistent. The only book in most homes was the family Bible. This stayed a constant for many years. Only the more affluent families were able to purchase books from traveling vendors. This all changed when the first parish bookmobile hit the road on Thursday, January 22, 1942. One of its stops on Mondays was the site of Hineston’s original store, then owned by W. S. Terry. This proved to be a service our community desperately needed. As stated in the 1960 Census Report, in 1930 the rate of illiteracy in Louisiana was 15.1%. In only 20 years, 1950, that rated had dropped to 9.8%. Many have felt the availability of more library services statewide is directly responsible for that marked decrease.
One of Hineston’s native daughters, Ms. Ima Townley, decided to move back to the area after her retirement. Burdened by the lack of local access to a community based library branch, she became a voice for one to be located locally. In 1984, after working closely with Rapides Parish Library’s new Library Director, Stephen Rogge, she and her husband donated a parcel of land which became the home of the Hineston Branch of the Rapides Parish Library system. Ms. Townley was instrumental in helping our system obtain a double wide trailer, previously used for office space by the Region III Division of the Louisiana State Police. After some modifications, the Hineston Branch held its grand opening on Sunday, July 8, 1984, opening with a collection of a little over 3000 items. The first branch manager was Ms. Judy Brown. She held this post until her death in 2001, when the new manager Donna Crawford was hired that same year.
Hineston Library has always had an in-house mission, to become a Lighthouse for Literacy. The use of the library branch has always been strong. As the double wide trailer began to show the natural ravages of heavy use and age, a hope for a new branch became a reality when one was built on property donated by Mr. Teddy Price. A grand opening ceremony for this 4000 square foot facility was held in June 2008. The new branch is truly a resource for community needs, just as the first mercantile store was. Once again, history is repeating itself.
We at Hineston Branch exist to provide services not duplicated by anyone within a 25 mile radius. Demographically, long trips for simple services are no longer necessary. We are the only service industry in the area which provides free access to computers, free material for pleasure reading, research, self-education, and movies for home entertainment, with over 19,000 items in our collection. The spacious, well appointed 480 square foot meeting room in our branch has proved to be an excellent site for job training opportunities, a quiet space for studying or Wi-Fi use, library programs, and community groups. All of these resources have helped expand our community’s vision, from a local one to one of larger proportions.
Compiled by Donna Crawford
Marler, Don. Historic Hineston. Hemphill, TX Dogwood Press, 2001
Bureau of the Census; Current Population Reports; February 12, 1963 series P-23, No. 8