With New Branch Opening, Jefferson Parish Library Closer to Putting Katrina Behind ItBy Michael Kelley Dec 27, 2011
The Jefferson Parish Library advanced further on its arduous road back from Hurricane Katrina's destruction with the reopening today of its Lakeshore Library branch.
"It's just a soft opening, but it has been awash with people. It's been a constant stream from the moment the doors opened," said Lon Dickerson, the library director. The formal grand opening is January 7.
The new $4 million building, which replaces the one completely destroyed by Katrina in 2005, is 7700 square feet, has a collection of 28,000 items, and a staff of 9. It was designed by Brian Faucheaux of Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects.
"It takes a long time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel," Dickerson said.
Katrina damaged 14 out of 15 libraries in the Jefferson Parish system, completely destroying four of them, as LJ reported. Seven reopened within six weeks of the hurricane, even though they needed further repairs; two reopened in late 2006; two reopened in 2008; brand new facilities opened at Gretna and Lafitte in 2010; and now the Lakeshore branch is back. The only project left is for the Grand Isle branch, which is scheduled to reopen in 2012.
"We had a temporary facility paid for by the Gates Foundation that was a portable glass structure for Lakeshore," Dickerson said. But there was obvious pent up demand since the temporary structure was only 676 square feet.
"About 90 percent of the people coming in today are signing up for library cards so we know it's new users, or pre-Katrina users, who are coming back," he said
Dickerson noted that the new library was using the BISAC library cataloging system, which arranges items by subject rather than using the Dewey Decimal system. The library also has face-out shelving.
"The reaction is extremely positive. It's really the bookstore experience," he said. The library has a Louisiana Wildlife theme, with specially designed animal models scattered throughout the library, like the critter shown below.