In August, the New Orleans Public Library teamed up with Fish in a Tree to host a 4-part Sensory Storytime series.
Love at the Library: Site of Couples' First Date Sets the Scene for Engagement
When E Mourot started planning to propose to her girlfriend last fall, she knew two things –– she wanted it to be in New Orleans and to connect the moment to her partner, Taylor Alberes’, love for books.
The couple lives in Gonzales, but when they met in early 2021, Mourot was living in New Orleans, and the pair would often spend time together in the city. For their first date, the two went walking through the Garden District, admiring the house floats and mansions. One building, in particular, caught their attention.
“We were walking down St. Charles Avenue and we saw this gorgeous old house, and we were both immediately drawn to it,” Alberes said.
They were even more struck when they realized what the building was: Milton H. Latter Memorial Library.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s a Library,” Alberes recalled. “I was so excited. I’ve loved libraries for as long as I can remember. I just knew that I had to check it out.”
Unfortunately, their date was on a Sunday and the Library was closed. But that didn’t stop Alberes and Mourot from exploring it as best they could.
“We probably looked super sketchy, but we just needed to see what it looked like inside. So, we were looking in the windows we could reach, and talking about how beautiful every room is,” Mourot said.
While they were peeking inside, the two started to talk about libraries and books, which is how Mourot learned how much both meant to her future partner.
“It was our first date, we’d just met,” Alberes said. “We barely knew each other, so E didn’t know how much I love libraries or how much I love reading. So, as I’m peeping into this beautiful building like a crazy person, I was pouring my heart out, telling her about how important books are to me.”
The two made a pact to return to the Library to explore it fully. But then, Mourot got a job in Hawaii, and the couple relocated there for a few months. Afterwards, the two moved to Gonzales, into Alberes’ recently purchased home.
“Life happened, so we never made it back,” Mourot said.
Until last November, when Mourot and Alberes returned to the site of their first date. But this time, Mourot had something extra up her sleeve.
“I’d been planning the proposal for months, but I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to do it,” Mourot said.
“And then, one day, I was just thinking about some of our first dates, and connecting them to how and when we really started falling in love. And then it just hit me –– that Library in New Orleans! We’d had so much fun creeping around and trying to see inside, and when I remembered that’s where we were when she first shared with me her love of books and libraries, and it just all made sense.”
After her realization, Mourot took a solo trip back to New Orleans to scope out the inside of the building for real, and to make sure her idea was even possible.
“As soon as I walked in and started looking around, it was so obvious to me that this was exactly where I needed to ask Taylor to marry me,” she said.
Three months later, the couple returned to New Orleans for a getaway weekend. They were staying at a hotel just down the street, and Mourot lured Alberes to Latter Library under the guise of having a photoshoot.
“That kind of tipped me off, but my best friend is a photographer and we do a lot of photoshoots, so I still wasn’t sure,” Alberes said.
The decoy gave Alberes the chance to get dressed up, which Mourot said was all part of the plan.
“We walked in, and Chelsea, her photographer friend, was there taking photos,” Mourot said.
Morout let Alberes to a room with a fireplace. On the mantle, Mourot set up a signed copy of Alberes’ favorite book, who’s pages had been folded into two special words: “Marry me.”
“I was going to take the book and get down on one knee, with the book in one hand and the ring in the other, but I completely forgot about the book. I was so nervous,” Mourot said laughing. “I had a speech that I’d practiced a million times, and I’m just happy I was able to get that out.”
After Alberes accepted the proposal, Mourot remembered the rest of her plan.
“I was just like, ‘Oh yeah! Look at this book,” and I grabbed it off the mantle to show her,” she said.
Alberes was even more thrilled.
“It was a signed copy of ‘Twilight,’ I’m not ashamed!” she said. “It just added this whole other layer to this beautiful and romantic gesture. I couldn’t believe it.”
Afterwards, the two finally explored Latter Library together.
“It’s even beautiful inside than I ever expected,” Alberes said. “I’ve always been an avid reader. Growing up, libraries were always a safe place for me where I felt comfortable and at peace, and able to relax into my own little world. Now, libraries will mean even more to me, for the rest of my life. Because, I’ll always have this incredible moment to remember.”
In the future, Alberes and Mourot plan to move to New Orleans. When they do, they’re sure Latter Library will remain an important place in their life.
“When we talk about having kids, we get excited about bringing them to the Library and watching them learn how to read,” Alberes said.
“When we visualize that, we see it happening here, at this Library,” Mourot added. “We 100 percent consider this our library already, even though we don’t live in the city yet.”
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