The New Orleans Public Library’s Mid-City branch is finally getting a new home after months of operating under a short-term lease at its site on Orleans Avenue.
The library will move by the fall to the former Automotive Life Insurance Co. building at 4140 Canal St., just off Carrollton Avenue, library Director Charles Brown said in a memo this week to staff and city officials.
The branch’s space at the American Can Co. complex on Orleans Avenue will remain open while officials prepare its new location. Specific closing and opening dates will be announced later.
Library officials have been searching for a new home for the branch since their landlord, a Georgia company called ACV VII LLC, told them last year that a new prospective tenant wanted the space at the American Can Co. site.
The library also had not paid rent for that site in a year, although ACV did not cite the missed payments as a reason for the eviction. City officials, who pay ACV on the library’s behalf, said the nonpayment was the result of a misunderstanding about the terms of the lease.
The city cut a $44,760 check for the entire year on Sept. 15, two weeks after ACV asked the library to leave.
Bowing to pressure from City Councilwoman Susan Guidry and others, the owner gave the library until Jan. 31 to find a new home, then put the library on a new month-to-month lease after the deal with the other tenant fell through.
The new Canal Street location will offer space for programs and community meetings, a Spanish-language collection and more parking spots, Brown said. It also will have a bigger children’s room and a space for teenagers.
The building’s first floor will house books and services for library users, while the second floor will be home to the staff’s workroom, break area and offices, he said. The library also may share some second-floor space with another tenant.
“Located off the highly trafficked intersection of Carrollton Avenue and Canal Street, on the Canal Street streetcar line, this landmark midcentury modern building will provide the library with a high-profile location in the rapidly growing Mid-City community,” Brown wrote in the memo.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.