The Renovation and Innovation of the UNO Library
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The University of New Orleans’ Earl K. Long Library used to be shorter – two stories to be exact. In the 1980s, state funding was secured for the construction of the third and fourth floors that exist today.
At a certain point, a decision was made to extend the fourth floor outward, resulting in an overhang. While the extra space created more storage, it depleted the budget.
The money for the extension stalled the completion of the rest of the floor, and part of the space was dubbed “the donut hole” because there were walls without a roof. Fast forward some 30 years later, and the state funding for the project’s completion has now arrived.
One of the main resources located on the floor is the Louisiana and Special Collections Department. These archives document the history of New Orleans with documents from the Louisiana Supreme Court, New Orleans Public Schools, archival footage from news stations such as WDSU and WVUE, and materials relating to WWII-era Higgins boats.
These examples are just a few of the more than 450 special collections the library houses. Even the city’s funeral records and records of local businesses – like the defunct drug store, K&B – are housed there as well. Much of this owes itself to the school’s relatively recent birth in 1958, but also to its role in serving the immediate community.
Students have access to the collections and may scan documents, but due to the delicate nature of the materials, most cannot be checked out.
The fourth floor also features multiple study rooms equipped with monitors, whiteboards and tables specifically wired for laptops and phones. It also hosts a display case of works by UNO authors.
Among the study rooms is an extension of the fine arts department’s digital animation studio. Department Manager Jeffrey Rinehart obtained a grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents to fund it. It serves as a step for the expansion of the arts at UNO as well as a space for creativity.
Another area aimed at fostering new ideas is the Center for Teaching Innovation, a faculty workspace for the exploration of effective teaching methods. Finally, the Exhibits Gallery is a showcase that aims to make the school’s collection and other local work more accessible.
After years of renovation, the grand opening of the fourth floor will be held Feb. 2nd from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. There will be refreshments, a ribbon cutting, and tours of the new space. A separate opening for the Exhibits Gallery will take place in the near future.