Library System hires broker for south branch location _lowres

ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY, SEPT. 27 - In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, Sheri Shaw, of Dubuque, Iowa, colors at Carnegie-Stout Public Library during an Adult Coloring program in Dubuque, Iowa. (Nicki Kohl/Telegraph Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT, TV OUT.

The East Baton Rouge Library System’s leaders are continuing their yearslong search for a south branch location and have hired a real estate broker to help in the process.

The city-parish finalized a contract this week for the library to use Sperry Van Ness/Graham, Langlois & Legendre, LLC as its real estate broker to help with the site search. The library will not pay a fee to the broker, and the property seller would have to pay any commission that Sperry Van Ness earns.

Library Board members and staffers have gone through an exhaustive search of potential properties for the south branch over the past few years.

They once planned to build the south branch at Rouzan, developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa’s mixed use development on Perkins Road. In 2013, the library pulled out of that agreement and cited frustrations about a lack of process on the site.

The board also hired a search firm in 2014 to help scout possible south branch locations, but none of those locations were deemed to be what the library was looking for.

About a year ago, library officials said they were hoping to build the south branch on a plot of land across from Lee High School. But nearby residents said they were not interested in having a library there, citing worries it would add traffic to the already congested Lee Drive.

Library officials are now back at the drawing board. Some Library Board members have questioned whether it’s worth continuing to pursue plans for a south branch when search efforts so far have been fruitless.

But other Library Board members said they will not go back on their commitment to the south side of the parish, especially because the money for the south branch has been saved and set aside. The Southside Civic Association also encouraged them to keep looking and not to give up.

The library had envisioned a 15,000-square-foot library for the south branch, but Library Director Spencer Watts acknowledged they may need to become more flexible with their ideas or consider a different kind of library.