East Baton Rouge Library visitors, checkouts, downloads all increased in 2015 _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- East Baton Rouge Parish Library paige Yu Xiang works in the rows of books in the Library's Reading Room in March 2015.

Gone are the days when Baton Rouge’s library-goers have to be stealthy about sneaking snacks or drinks past librarians.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board of Control voted Thursday to change their rules to allow patrons to bring light snacks and beverages to the libraries across the parish.

Library staffers have been trying out the system for months at the Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard. The rule change allows visitors to munch on wrapped food like cookies and crackers or sip on drinks in containers with caps or spill resistant lids.

Food and drinks will still be off-limits in certain areas, such as the Main Library’s Genealogy Room.

Drinks must not be alcoholic and must not have red dye in them.

Some worried that the libraries will be ruined with groups of people enjoying pungent dinners. Baton Rouge attorney Jim George saw a group of people devouring fried chicken at a library recently, and it compelled him to ask board members to vote against the change.

“Most of your patrons would not benefit from this change,” he told the board before they voted.

The library staffers and board members assured George that fried chicken did not fall into the category of approved foods to bring to the library. The new rules say that food and drinks should not emit strong odors.

Board members Jason Jacob, Travis Woodard, Logan Leger and Donald Luther, Jr. all voted in favor of the rule change. Kizzy Payton, Terrie Johnson and Kathy Wascom voted against the change.

The board also voted to recommend that they use real estate firm Sperry Van Ness to help search for a site for a south branch library. The board has unsuccessfully attempted to locate a spot for the planned library for months now.

The city-parish has to approve the recommendation for Sperry Van Ness before it becomes final.