ALA, Highsmith, Bretford team up for library renovation in New Orleans

Contact: Larra Clark

Media Relations Manager

For Immediate Release

March 1, 2006

ALA, Highsmith, Bretford team up for library renovation

in New Orleans

(CHICAGO) The American Library Association (ALA) today announced it will team with library vendors Highsmith, Inc., and Bretford to renovate the interior of an historic Carnegie library branch of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL).

The restoration of the Children’s Resource Center branch (913 Napoleon Ave.) will take place during the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans (June 22-28). Highsmith and Bretford, which provide furnishings, equipment and supplies to schools and libraries, will coordinate design with local library staff and provide the furnishings and technical expertise. ALA conference attendees from across the country will provide volunteer labor.

The branch was one of 13 NOPL buildings damaged during Hurricane Katrina. It is currently open on reduced hours with limited staff. The renovation will increase the collection up to 33 percent, increase the young adult area, improve the flow of the building and brighten the interior. This effort represents the first major contributions received as part of the NOPL campaign to rebuild.

"We are very excited to be working with Highsmith and Bretford to help New Orleans Public Library and New Orleanians recover from this tragedy," said ALA President Michael Gorman. "Libraries are vital to families as they struggle to rebuild their lives. People turn to libraries more than ever in a time of crisis."

The library, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is home to the Pebbles Latin American Collection – the largest collection of Latin American children’s books in the metro New Orleans area. It was created by the New Orleans Public Library and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Tulane students also may join the library volunteers on the restoration work.

Though named the Children’s Resource Center, the library serves the entire community with computers for children and adults, English-language children’s books, and a small adult fiction collection.

"After meeting with the New Orleans Public Library staff at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting and listening to their needs, I was sure we could manage this project successfully," said Highsmith Merchandising Director Margaret Sullivan.

"The NOPL staff asked us to help them renovate one library so they have a physical example of what their libraries can be like after Katrina. They needed a catalyst for their fundraising efforts," she added. "We felt the Children’s Resource Center was a very good choice for several reasons. First, we believe that working together as a group we can refurbish it over the long weekend and leave the city of New Orleans a gift from all of us. The library also serves two nearby schools, as well as the local neighborhood, so it benefits children in many ways, which was extremely appealing to us at Highsmith."

Bretford President Mike Briggs added: "This is a good cause and a great opportunity to show support for the people of New Orleans. We’re proud to be involved."

ALA is the voice of America’s libraries, and the ALA Annual Conference is the world’s largest library gathering, with about 20,000 librarians, library staff, vendors, authors and guests expected to attend. For more information on the conference, please visit
. To learn more about ALA hurricane relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region, please go to

Highsmith, Inc., is a complete supplier to schools and libraries through their catalogs and a national network of direct sales managers. With five decades of serving libraries, they provide planning services and partner with hundreds of manufacturers to design, deliver and install projects nationally.

Bretford is a family-owned company founded in 1948 and based in the Chicago suburb of Franklin Park, Ill. The company provides a broad range of furniture products, including library shelving, tables, carrels and soft seating; technology support; visual display products; and tables.