Louisiana Division/City Archives   New Orleans Public Library

Image of the Month
January 2010

This photograph from the New Orleans Public Library's Annual Report for 1910 shows the then new Main Library at Lee Circle (actually captioned in the document as the "Central Library"). The building, erected with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie, remained in service until its demolition after the current Main Library opened to the public in 1958. Interestingly, the current Main Library has now been in use longer than was its predecessor. The NOPL Master Plan calls for the construction of a new "landmark" Main Library, in phases, between 2010 and 2018. It is sorely needed.

It is also interesting to note that the 1910 Annual Report compared NOPL to the Newark (New Jersey) Public Library to show the advantage that the system in the Northeast had over the local institution. Although the two cities had populations close to the same level, Newark's library enjoyed an annual budget of $111,680 as opposed to the New Orleans stipend of $36,817. Unfortunately, things have not improved here in the Crescent City. In 2008 the Newark system saw revenues totalling $17.2 million while New Orleans had to struggle with but $8.1 million in support. And this was so despite the fact that New Orleans, even after Katrina, counted 312,000 residents, 33 thousand more than the number living in Newark. But then Jefferson Parish has a library budget of more than $12 million and Baton Rouge is even higher at $30 million plus--and neither of those localities even had a public library system in 1910!

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Click HERE to visit our old (1996-2007) Images of the Month Gallery archives.

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