LaPlace Library Branch reopens: Transformed administrative wing provides flexible space
Published 1:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2023
LAPLACE — While the main building remains gutted from Hurricane Ida, a creative reworking of the administrative wing has allowed the Norris J. Millet Sr. Library in LaPlace to reopen to the public.
With bright, cheery colors and flexible spaces that can be reconfigured to meet the community’s needs, Library Director Andrea Tullos said the 5800 square foot space is not bigger that what existed previously, but it’s better than ever.
“St. John the Baptist Parish has weathered much change over the past three years,” Tullos said, adding every great setback has led to an even greater comeback.
St. John Parish Library officials are in close contact with the parish and FEMA regarding the restoration of the main building. An engineering firm has come in to complete a thorough inspection and create a game plan for rebuilding, which will be presented before the Library Board of Control in July. In the interim, the public can use the new entrance to the left of the main doors, marked with large teal letters that read, “LIBRARY.”
The new LaPlace Library wing features public computers and laptops, a meeting room that seats up to 20, a conference room that seats 10-12, and a study room that comfortably seats about eight people. The wing also features access to books and magazines, a teen space and a children’s nook with space for story time.
According to Tullos, the wing is approximately the same size as the Garyville branch. The administrative offices have been consolidated within the space to allow more room for the public.
All of the staff members had an extra pep in their step when the LaPlace library reopened its doors for the first time in more than 18 months last Wednesday.
“It feels good to come home,” said Demi Williams, who has worked at the Reserve and Edgard branches since Hurricane Ida.
Branch manager Brandy Barnes enjoys the open layout of the new space.
“It’s a good space for people. It’s a great segue to what we are pushing toward,” Barnes said. “It’s like a sense of grounding. You can see the progress after the hurricane. We are officially recovering, and we have our library back.”
“It’s a nice way of saying we’ve passed this hurdle,” added Dafinny Paz.
According to Tullos, the new LaPlace wing incorporates elements of the new Reserve branch that is currently under construction next to the historic St. John Theatre. She explained that 21st Century libraries function as interactive community spaces rather than quiet buildings full of books.
“When we do start, the design work and rebuild of LaPlace is actually going to focus on the community aspect. We did that even with the small space here because we want to make sure this space can be utilized in a multi-functional way,” Tullos said. “We are making sure staff is accessible and not hidden behind a large desk and helping the public understand that the space can be reconfigured to their needs.”
Upcoming events at the LaPlace branch during the first week of June include a Summer Reading kick-off, grab-and-geaux self-portrait and DIY friendship bracelet kits, story time book bags, DIY spa kits, a music album picture frame craft, a solar cooker demonstration with the Louisiana Department of Energy, STEMsational Thursday, and a ‘Los Libros Book Club and Discussion Group. A full calendar of events is available at stjohnlib.evanced.info/signup