BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The demolition of the library branch in downtown Baton Rouge has started almost two months after it closed its doors for construction.
The work on the River Center Branch Library construction is ahead of schedule unlike the project itself, which was approved six years ago by the East Baton Rouge Metro Council. The cost of the entire project, including demolition and construction, is estimated at about $19 million. According to officials, the EBR Public Library will use money already budgeted and collected to pay for the new branch and other items.
"This is an exciting project and has been carefully planned with a tremendous amount of community input and a lengthy, meticulous design process," said library director Spencer Watts. "Expenses will be covered thanks to our diligent planning and use of taxpayer funds, and we will have a world-class, technologically robust Library that downtown Baton Rouge deserves and requires in this day and age. It will help provide a dynamic, engaging space and help existing businesses, attract new ones, assist patrons and promote Baton Rouge as innovative and progressive – much like the new Main Library at Goodwood."
Downtown Development District's Davis Rhorer said the library will anchor that area and be called the Library at Town Square.
"It's a stunning piece of modern architecture, a lot of glass, but it's also gonna make a real visual statement for who we are as a community in our town square that we prioritize library and learning as the most important thing," Rhorer said.
The old municipal building across the street is also currently being demolished. It will ultimately be more green space downtown.
All the books, computers and other materials from the downtown library were moved to a temporary location at the end of July. It is located in the historic Kress Building on Third Street across from Matherne's. The bulk of the River Center Branch's collection will remain in storage until the construction is complete.
The temporary library site is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.