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Posts tagged library spaces
Renovations to New Orleans area libraries bring them into 21st century
Robert E Smith Library in Lakeview, Photo by TP
Never before has a modern American city faced a wholesale reconstruction as New Orleans has since Hurricane Katrina.
But just as roads have been repaired and new schools built, the New Orleans Public Library has quietly been rebuilding its facilities in an effort to make the system a model among its peers.
The statistics after the storm were mind-numbing: Water and wind damaged the city’s main library and all of its 12 branches, eight beyond repair. More than half of the system’s collections were soaked by standing floodwater or roof leaks. Even the Louisiana Division — a repository of research materials including the city archives, special collections and genealogy records — was at risk of being compromised when some items in off-site storage were damaged. Ensuing layoffs reduced the size of the staff from 216 to 20.
Several suburban parishes fared no better. All but one of the libraries in Jefferson Parish was damaged. St. Tammany Parish lost two branch libraries to Katrina’s storm surge. And it took flood-ravaged St. Bernard Parish until 2007 to open a temporary library in a trailer.
In New Orleans, officials managed to repair and reopen five libraries swiftly after the storm, including the Main Library, the Children’s Resource Center and the Alvar Street, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nix branches. Services were expanded by adding nontraditional sites to the mix, such as a Mid-City storefront location at the American Can Co. building and a Central City post at the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood Center.
But in the coming months, residents will see the first wave of brand new libraries open their doors, built to 21st century standards set out by an ambitious master plan devised by the New Orleans Public Library Foundation in early 2008. The work is being paid for almost entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.