Ferriday library a ‘beautiful building’ after renovations

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 27, 2002

FERRIDAY &045; It’s been a tough year at the Ferriday library.

Way back in January, construction crews began tearing up the modest postwar structure to clear the way for a $1.5 million, 60,000-square-foot addition.

Library employees spent the next 12 months shifting books, desks and computers to keep up with the renovation.

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But the dust is beginning to settle, and the day-to-day operations at the library are getting back to normal Š or, as the case may be, much better than normal.

Painted in soothing shades of green and blue, the addition is more-or-less complete. And even though the project’s end is at least a month away, the library has never looked so good.

Library Director Amanda Taylor described the revamped building as a gift to the residents of Concordia Parish.

&uot;I’m looking forward to the people in the parish getting to use it,&uot; she said. &uot;They’re going to have a beautiful building.&uot;

But the library’s look isn’t all that’s new.

For three years, Taylor and the Concordia Parish Library Board planned out every detail of the renovation to make the library easier to use for both staff and patrons.

The result is a well-lighted, airy building that has everything from data ports that will allow visitors to access the library’s high-speed Internet connection on their own laptop computers to a quiet courtyard with fountains and creeping greenery.

The addition, Taylor said, was long overdue.

The library, originally built not as a place for reading but as a community center, had not been changed at all since 1953. It had become too small to accommodate the branch’s ever-increasing book and periodical collection and stock of computers.

&uot;We just outgrew the building,&uot; Taylor said.

Every change, she said, was a solution to a chronic problem.

The lecture room, temporarily jammed with books and computer equipment, was designed for the steady stream of poets, novelists, historians and storytellers running through the parish.

&uot;We do so many programs that we needed a separate lecture room,&uot; Taylor said.

The server room has removed countless yards of messy wiring from view and consolidated a disjointed system.

&uot;We had wires and cables hanging out everywhere,&uot; Taylor recalled.

The new, larger bookmobile garage has a wall of shelves just for boxes of books and a second door so that a car can pull up and give the 21-foot mobile a jump.

In coming weeks, a new circulation desk will be installed, this one set back a good distance from the front door to avoid the cramped conditions of the previous layout.

Out back, a satellite dish is going up, courtesy of the state Public Broadcasting Service, that will receive instructional programming.

There’s also a room that is strictly for children, with books, videos and four computer terminals loaded with educational software.

Another welcome improvement is the addition of two copious restrooms, tiled from floor to ceiling for easy cleaning.

&uot;We never had a children’s room,&uot; Taylor said.

The library’s old facilities comprised a lone toilet, now sitting outside, ready to be hauled away to its final resting place at the landfill.

&uot;The building just has so many things we’ve never had,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;I think it’s going to make you want to come to the library.&uot;

In the meantime, the library board has taken the first steps toward augmenting the Vidalia branch, located in the old Parish Courthouse.

Architect Paul Stewart, who designed the Ferriday addition and redesign, has made a few visits to that structure to get an idea of what could be done to it.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury, which owns the courthouse, is looking into getting the structure put on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stewart said such a designation would put slightly stricter guidelines on an addition to the building but would not preclude new construction.

But Taylor said the plans for the Vidalia branch will remain in the discussion stage until the last nail has been driven in at Ferriday.

&uot;We need to finish this one first,&uot; she said.