The building goes up! The photos here (all from the Municipal Government Photograph Collection, NOPL Series) trace the progress of the Main Library construction from basement to roof.
After the photographs are links to documents concerning the construction
of the building and quotations from contemporaries.
May 31, 1957
November 31, 1957
February 5, 1958
April 30, 1958
June 20, 1958
The finished product!
Schedule of Finishes
The Library Board feels that the Architects have been extremely successful in reducing the
this building. They have eliminated the Bookmobile and Extension wing, which we hope may be erected at some later
date, and they have restudied the entire structure, from the foundations to the roof. Through the most rigid economy,
including such savings as they elimination of any floor coverings in all except public areas, reduction in the finishes
requested for most areas of the building, and reduction of the number of book lifts and elevators initially installed, they
estimate the cost of the proposed building at $16.67 per square foot or $1.25 per cubic foot. The building would contain
approximately 145,000 square feet, and provision for future expansion will exist on the land available at the rear of the
Bookmobile wing instead of being included in the foundations and roof of the building.
. . . the building is a relatively simple block, and it grew almost completely out of the needs of the
. . . it was decided that the building should take a direction similar to that used for department
stores--that the building should literally be a "department store for books," whose showcases would be the walls of the
building, with the interior of the library as the constantly changing display. The interior, while retaining dignity, should
reflect an informal atmosphere, with a visual flow which would encourage "shopping" through the various departments.
To achieve this informality and yet retain the dignity which should characterize this type of public building was the
A modern library, the staff felt, should be a source of information and education for its patrons, a
place in which the records of the past are organized and preserved, and a public center for recreational reading and
esthetic development. We feel that our new plant provides New Orleans and its citizens with all these services.
As in so many other matters, the resulting building represents a compromise between an
unattainable idea and practical reality.
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