East Baton Rouge Library wins a fourth national award

East Baton Rouge Library wins a fourth national award
Kid's Wing of EBRPL on Goodwood (Source: Brandon Shackelford/WAFB)
Kid's Wing of EBRPL on Goodwood (Source: Brandon Shackelford/WAFB)

By: Donna Britt, WAFB
And: Sonya T. Gordon, East Baton Rouge Parish Library

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hot of the presses, the picture is posed to be funny, but people who work at the EBR Main Library were pleasantly surprised to read that they had just received the notable 2015 New Landmark Library award given by the Library Journal.

The Main Library at Goodwood is now among the few prestigious libraries nationwide honored with a New Landmark Library award for its innovative and outstanding design, and for helping inform and motivate the public to build their dream design.

Director Spencer Watts said, "The Landmark Library designation is a relatively new award with a very rigorous and highly competitive application process; only 11 libraries were awarded this honor. The most important thing to note is that the award is not for how the building looks, but how it functions . providing wonderful spaces for engagement, access and discovery."

From meeting rooms, to spacious opportunities to use public computers, to invitations to spend all day in cushy chairs by the panoramic windows that overlook BREC's Independence Park gardens, the library's design still does have artistic merit. All you have to do is listen to a member of the public who's seeing it for the first time. I've heard people actually gasp because the building is so glistening and beautiful.

The Landmark Awards say they want to inspire libraries to create the community's "new social heart." It says "It's a space that feels almost sacred and allows small group meetings, lectures, or quiet research and contemplation." High compliments for our EBR library.

The new award is the fourth now in a series of national awards won by our same main library.

It also recently received the American Institute of Architects (AIABR) Rose Award for outstanding design and function. Architects , The Design Collaborative, achieved excellence in Architecture as a joint venture with Cockfield Jackson, Dewberry and Tipton Associates for the Baton Rouge project. The Rose Award also recognized and celebrated design excellence in the categories of basic Architecture, but also Interior Architecture, Master Planning/Urban Design, and Exquisite Detail.  The blueprints submitted for that award included the park that wraps around the library too and how it integrates with the library public traffic.

Another industry magazine handed the Main Library at Goodwood its third and fourth national awards. It was selected as Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine's Best Government/Public Buildings Project, and then won Best Overall Project of the Year, for the five-state region encompassing Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma! It's like winning "Best in Show"!

Published in ENR, the Regional Best 2015 Projects ranked our library along with the best construction projects public and private that were designed and built in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Projects ranging from airports to sports/entertainment.

One thing to remember is that the EBR Library Board of Control managed money very carefully. They kept everything pay-as-you-go as the building was constructed. They were careful to wisely use taxpayer funds.  The building is completely paid for and owned by the Board and community now.

Highlights of the design include stained glass windows, a recycled paper waterfall spanning three floors, a drive-through/pickup window, and a landscaped roof terrace and gardens. Since opening in January 2014, the Main Library at Goodwood has hosted about 780,246 visitors, had 967,431 items checked out, helped more than 183,025 with public computer usage and noted more than 250,000 free WiFi sessions in 2014.

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