Metro Council throws a curveball at downtown library project, airing issues debated back in 2011 _lowres

Rendering of the new River Center Branch Library downtown

A smaller version of the downtown River Center Branch Library will operate out of the old Kress Building on 3rd Street while the new, modern library is being constructed.

Library staffers are hoping to start accepting bids in the next couple months for the new library’s construction. The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Board voted Thursday on using the building at 447 3rd Street, next to Restaurant IPO, as their temporary library while the new one is being built.

“We would like to at least maintain a foothold so people who work and live in that area would still have access to services,” said Library Director Spencer Watts.

The 8,750 square foot building is expected to cost between $20 and $22 per square foot for the library to rent. The library has already budgeted $250,000 for rental costs for next year.

The temporary library site will not be able to fit everything that the current building, and eventual future one, can contain. It has just enough space to fit 15 or so computers, a children’s section, a section for books that are frequently checked out and a space for book storage.

Assistant Library Director Mary Stein said the library staff faced many challenges in finding a temporary location for the library. She said downtown rent prices are high and many buildings lack necessary features for a library, like restrooms.

The Library Board also voted to rent space at 415 North 15th Street for storage space for books and other collection items.

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