"After Hurricane Katrina hit Jefferson Parish on August 29th, the library krewe (the library director and members of the maintenance and outreach departments) was back in the parish less than 24 hours later dealing with damaged library facilities and resources. Krewe members stayed at East Bank Regional until October 1. Other library staff reported for work on October 3rd.
Because FEMA and the American Red Cross had not yet arrived, the library krewe was pulled from making repairs to prepare and distribute food and was unable to salvage portions of the collections at Lakeshore and Gretna and contain the damage at Belle Terre and Grand Isle."
"Fifteen per cent of Jefferson Parish Library's collection of approximately one million items has been lost.
Gretna branch (above):
"Gretna library’s roof was destroyed by the storm. The entire collection and contents of the building were lost."
Grand Isle (right):
"Katrina ripped the air conditioning unit off the roof and tossed it to the ground like a rag doll. This resulted in a very large hole in the roof. Due to the humidity, lack of climate control, and moisture coming in from the hole in the roof the entire collection and all items inside the building were lost."
But the Jefferson Parish Library System is building back, and building better. Jefferson Parish Library has spent $4.6 million on clean-up activities and expects to spend another $10-$14 million on repairs to the 14 of their 16 libraries that were damaged by Katrina.
And the parish library did something really great to in the aftermath of the storm, offering free guest library cards to the residents of parishes whose library services were decimated, including Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes. They had a little, and many parishes had nothing, so they were happy to share the computers, the books, the databases, and everything else. Hats off!
The Library Director Lon Dickerson wrote a terrific article about the recovery process that you can read here.