New Libraries Speak Volumes

One of the mantras of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans has been to not just rebuild, but to rebuild better and smarter. To get a sense of how this can play out, just take a walk through the newly restored and thoroughly rethought Rosa F. Keller branch of the New Orleans Public Library system.

Located in the heart of Broadmoor, a neighborhood that was devastated by post-Katrina flooding and has been directing its own impressive recovery, the Keller branch is a 21st-century library designed – or redesigned – to also serve as a community center. 
 
There are plenty of books here, but also classrooms for literacy and computer courses, meeting spaces for community groups, a demonstration kitchen for cooking classes and even a coffee shop, the Green Dot Café.

All of this is found in a structure that melds both the old and the new. The library uses its original, pre-Katrina structure – an historic home dating to 1917, which is now fused with a new contemporary wing. Throughout, the new library is designed for low environmental impact and high resistance to future storms.

LaToya Cantrell, president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, says that prior to Katrina the neighborhood had a “mediocre library at best,” but with support from foundation funders the group was “able to dream big” for its replacement.

“We have a dedicated community, but that community requires a neutral place to meet, learn and share,” she says. “That’s what this represents and will provide, and it’s something that everyone in New Orleans needs and deserves.”

Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York, which donated $2 million for the project, called it “an inspiring example of a community seizing the initiative to restore and rebuild what Hurricane Katrina took away.”

Other examples have sprouted up around New Orleans as the library system’s rebuilding push continues. In March, the same month the Keller site reopened, the city unveiled new branches in Gentilly and Lakeview while a branch in eastern New Orleans was scheduled to open in April and an Algiers branch is expected by the summer. Like the Broadmoor example, each incorporates green building features, community space and technology.

 

You Might Also Like

10 Things to Do In New Orleans This Weekend

Our top picks for things to do in New Orleans this weekend.

10 Things To Do in New Orleans This Weekend

Our top picks for this weekend's events.

Quenching Your Inner Beach Thirst

Have a taste of the beach wherever you are with these 4 cocktail recipes.

10 Things To Do in New Orleans This Weekend

Our top picks for this weekend's events.

Favorite Forces

Recipes From Café Reconcile and SoBou

Add your comment:

Latest Posts

An Ambitious Opening

Square Root, which aims to be a dining destination, is finally set to open.

10 Things to Do In New Orleans This Weekend

Our top picks for things to do in New Orleans this weekend.

Cool Ideas

A refreshing beverage, beer for a good cause, and CoolBrew's 25th birthday

Banh Mis and Mosaics

Celebrating a birthday and a community

Upper Nine Doughnut Company: Making New Traditions

An interview with Glenn Haggerty, co-owner of Upper Nine Doughnut Company