ALA Volunteers Return to Support New Orleans Rebuilding Efforts
Five years after ALA held its first-ever “Libraries Build Communities” volunteer effort in New Orleans, more than 220 ALA volunteers from across the U.S. gathered at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for what has become the annual “Libraries Build Communities” event, a daylong community service effort from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. on Friday.
Volunteers convened at 8 a.m. at the Convention Center and departed for 15 work sites including local public and school libraries, Kingsley House, and other rebuilding organizations. Library volunteer duties consisted of shelving books, reorganizing and updating collections, and record-entering and cataloging. Additional volunteers assisted with landscaping, painting, and various construction projects.
“Libraries Build Communities” began in 2006, as the library community came to the aid of local libraries and community groups after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region in 2005. Coordinated by the ALA’s Chapter Relations Office, the volunteer effort has become an Annual Conference tradition, as conference attendees continue to volunteer to assist libraries and community groups in conference cities. The American Library Association was the first national organization to hold a conference in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and conference volunteers continue to support rebuilding efforts.
“When the ALA first came to New Orleans in 2006, there was an unimaginable amount of work that needed to be done throughout the city,” said ALA Chapter Relations Office Director Michael Dowling. “In a few short days, the ALA was able to make a difference and illustrate that libraries do in fact build communities. Even now, five years later, we continue to demonstrate the importance of libraries in each city we visit, whether it be through community services projects like ‘Libraries Build Communities’ or through the free programs and services we provide.”
In 2006, the ALA’s Libraries Build Communities project led more than 900 librarians and library workers in a volunteer effort to help rebuild libraries, homes, and other community sites in New Orleans, and launched a national effort to provide relief and assistance, raising $500,000 dollars to distribute to the region’s libraries.
New Orleans “Libraries Build Communities” volunteer sites included:
- Alvar Library, 913 Alvar Street, New Orleans
- Beacon of Hope, 145 Robert E. Lee Blvd. #210, New Orleans
- Dillard University, 2601 Gentilly Blvd., New Orleans (two site projects)
- Keller Branch, 4300 S. Broadway St., New Orleans
- Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St., New Orleans
- Livaudais Middle School, 925 Lamar Ave., Terrytown, La.
- Louisiana Recovery School District, 1641 Poland Ave., New Orleans
- New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Ave., New Orleans (four site projects)
- Rebuilding Together New Orleans, 923 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans
- St. Bernard Project, 2515 Canal St., New Orleans
- St. Paul’s Homecoming Center, 1509 Filmore Ave., New Orleans
Originally published in Cognotes, Saturday, June 25, 2011. Read full issue here.