The Chapter Relations Office has received some updates on the status of libraries that were damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Information on how to help these and other libraries in the region can be found at www.ala.org/katrina.
Louisiana Libraries (by Parish):
As of March 2007, 20 libraries remain closed. Several parish library systems have temporary buildings or bookmobiles serving as a branch until the building can be rebuilt. A Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide additional temporary facilities and/or bookmobiles for some parishes, planning grants for each and attendance at a multi-day Rebuilding Institute.
Cameron Parish: The main library is still located at one of the small branches, while the bookmobile is parked and serves as a branch – three of the five libraries are still closed.
Calcasieu Parish: Planning to rebuild the branch that was destroyed during Hurricane Rita.
Jefferson Parish: Two more branches were re-opened this summer. 10 of 15 branches are now open. The Grand Isle branch is served by a bookmobile donated by the Waukegan Public Library and a cybermobile on loan from the Muncie (IN) Public Library. Both are parked in front of the branch building. You can view more details of the recovery by visiting their up-to-date "Library Recovery Program" on the web at: http://www.jefferson.lib.la.us/Wishlist/overview.htm
Orleans Parish: The New Orleans Public Library was very pleased to re-open several branches during the ALA annual conference. Six locations are operating now with limited staff, and the first flooded branch is now re-opened. Two temporary libraries have opened, and soon two bookmobiles will travel to recovering neighborhoods. WiFi will be available at every location soon.
Plaquemines Parish: Has only one branch open, and the library is also housing another government agency.
St. Bernard Parish: Library has not yet been rebuilt. Residents of St. Bernard are encouraged to get a Katrina library card at New Orleans Public Library and Jefferson Parish Library, who offer full library service to them. The population of the parish is now estimated at 6,889 – a loss of 89.9%.
Terrebonne Parish: The Chauvin branch library is now open in a temporary building. The Grand Caillou branch is being renovated, and will be open by the first of the new year.
Vermilion Parish: Erath branch has reopened. The Pecan Island and Cow Island buildings are now demolished, and the library will be buying a bookmobile to serve both these areas.
UPDATE: Pascagoula Public Library held Grand Reopening on April 16, 2007
Hancock County, MS: Assessment of loss and damage for the library system's four branches is $6 million dollars. One year after Katrina only emergency repairs have been made to the library system's two remaining branches. FEMA reimbursed the library system for all emergency repairs. This enabled the Bay St. Louis and Kiln Library branches to reopen to the public. One year after Katrina no permanent repairs have been made to either of the HCLS's remaining branches. The damage assessment for the Hancock County Library far exceeds the donations and anticipated insurance settlements and FEMA funding. FEMA applications for reimbursement on permanent repairs and rebuilding are completed. FEMA funds are made on a reimbursement basis and require 10% local cash match. Thus government entities must have significant cash flow to proceed with repair and rebuilding projects. With tax bases devastated, local government funding for repairs and rebuilding does not exist and funds for operations is significantly reduced. Thus funding remains the most significant barrier to restoring library services and programs to the children and adults of Hancock County, Mississippi.
Harrison County, MS: Five of our nine libraries were either destroyed or severely damaged. We lost approximately 160,000 items and over 100 computers. Additionally, at least $1,000,000 worth of furniture and equipment was lost. As of today, we are operating four libraries and will hopefully be opening another branch in about two months. Two donated portable buildings (made possible by the Dupont Corporation) are being used as a temporary library in Pass Christian and we have a donated bookmobile (donated by the Chesterland Ohio ROTARY Club) parked in front of the D'Iberville Branch Library to serve as a branch until that facility is reopened. We have lost so many buildings (approximately 30,000 ) that our tax base has been severely affected. Unfortunately, we can no longer accept large donations of books due to storage limitations. However, we do encourage the donation of high quality items in moderation. We have set up individual donation contacts via the "Dewey Decimal 2006 Book Drive" and Amazon.Com web sites.
Mississippi Library Commission: Rebuilding has not yet begun on any of our public libraries; recovery is very slow - hampered by insurance issues, federal rules requiring insurance settlements prior to FEMA payments, the sheer volume of clean up and construction to be done, and the finite number of skilled contractors and workers. Our libraries continue to need money. Budgets have been severely reduced. PLEASE NO BOOK DONATIONS. Libraries are not ready for books and even when they are, they will need to acquire up-to-date materials.