Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pre-Katrina history question

When did the "functional and aesthetically pleasing" main library described in a letter to the Picayune become the disgrace described by Jarvis DeBerry? Both writers make valid points, particularly DeBerry:
I'd be fine with a library system that aggressively and adamantly depicts the importance of reading, that shows that this community holds libraries in high regard and is willing to pay for them.

That's not to say that Mayfield's idea is bad. It actually sounds very exciting. It's to point out that library officials could clear a much lower bar and still make people quite happy.

Had DeBerry gone a step further and shown the heretical common sense of another letter writer, I would have immediately singled him out for praise.

But, back to my question, by what point had neglect and poor maintenance taken their toll on the main library? Would it be fair to say that it had seen better days by 1980? 1985? It might be a good idea to save some that construction money for routine maintenance.

I'll have more on Lolis Eric Elie's disappointing effort soon, but I will point out one glaring omission:
Suspicions are fueled by at least two factors: the whispered concerns of people who are critical of Mayfield's leadership and the absolute refusal of Mayor Ray Nagin's administration to obey the state's public records law.

There's really only one difference in this controversy and every other Nagin administration controversy. In every other controversy, the refusal to share information has come first and the obvious bullshit explanation has come second. In this case the obvious bullshit came first -- he replaced a law professor with a trumpet player as the head of the library board because he wanted to refresh all of the city's municipal boards, yet, only two weeks later, he reappointed his campaign manager to the aviation board.

To some extent the city has always neglected maintenance over capital improvements. To some extent it is a matter of aesthetic preference.

The Curis and Davis library in a landmark of modern architecture and a landmark of a (mostly) failed attempt to make th city more modern. It is probably the first building to employ solar screens to shade the gall for the ever present New Orleans sun while maintain natural light.
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