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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dispatch from the New Orleans Public Library

Some Gulf Coast libraries were beaten into oblivion by the wind, but in New Orleans, flood waters were the big bad. And if the water didn't get it, the mold did.

Eight of the New Orleans Public Library's 12 branches were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and five pre-Katrina branches are currently open. To make up for the reduction in service, NOPL has opened temporary branches, and started a bookmobile service in parts of the city.

Above is the Martin Luther King branch of NOPL, located in the Lower Ninth Ward. It received the brunt of the storm surge, and was completely destroyed. Currently, a temporary branch is being built in the newly renovated Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School, and the NOPL foundation is trying to secure funding for rebuilding in a permanent location.

Three other libraries, the East New Orleans branch, the Gentilly branch, and the Nora Navra branch have been gutted and are closed indefinitely. To your right, you can see the mold and water damage at the Navra branch.

I recently learned something fun you can do to support the New Orleans Public Libraries. Whenever you buy a copy of Akashic's short story collection New Orleans Noir, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the library. This is a pretty great series - Potts and I have devoured the Baltimore, D.C., and Los Angeles books so far, and look forward to tracking down this one, which includes stories by Jervey Tervalon, Olympia Vernon, and Laura Lippman (two of whom will be featured later on today).

3 comments:

Larry said...

Just checking in. A nice diversion from Daily Mirror blogging.....

I recall (dimly) that there is a specialty in preserving water-damaged books that involves freeze-drying them. As I'm sure you know, many LAPL books were damaged by water during the great fire. I've always guessed the fire occurred somewhere in the section on religion because many of them seem to have been hit hard.

mary_m said...

Yes indeed. After the LAPL Central Library fire, books that could be salvaged were taken to the Rio Vista Warehouse to be freeze-dried so the mold didn't grow. It was a pretty enormous volunteer effort.

I know one of the fires started in Rare Books, and I think the other may have started in the Sci/Tech/Patents area.

Police had suspects, but the arsonist was never caught.

Larry said...

The LAPL's temporary quarters on South Spring were actually very cool.