ProQuest Donates "Shelter Library" to New Orleans Public Library
Internet & Homework Library provides service while branches are rebuilt
ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 5, 2006 - ProQuest Information and Learning announced today that it will be donating the ProQuest/IBM Internet & Homework Library to the New Orleans Public Library in June. Its first mission with NOPL will be to act as the temporary Algiers Branch Library, while the permanent library is being rebuilt.
Dubbed the "Shelter Library" for its work with evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it has been an outpost for the East Baton Rouge Public Library since September 2005. It will be presented by ProQuest to NOPL director Bill Johnson on June 25, when the American Library Association holds its annual conference in New Orleans, the first convention in the Crescent City since it was devastated by hurricanes in 2005.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, ProQuest and IBM joined forces to develop the Shelter Library, supporting the thousands of adults and children evacuated to Baton Rouge. The Library provides Internet access, homework help, and traditional services such as recreational reading. It has been hailed by a number of state agencies as a model program for the delivery of library services in emergency situations. Housed in a mobile building, the library opened within a month of the arrival of Katrina evacuees in Baton Rouge. The library contains banks of computers with Internet access and reference databases for students, IBM Young Explorer Workstations for children, and shelves of books for recreational reading. Expertise and Internet search assistance has been provided by local librarians and library students from Louisiana State University School of Library and Information Science.
Since its opening, the Shelter Library has served hundreds of evacuees, helping them file insurance claims, connect with loved ones via e-mail, track emergency aid, and help kids stay current with schoolwork by providing premium online homework aids. Red Cross, FEMA and other emergency workers have also relied on the library's computers to file reports and connect with other offices. Over time, it has developed as an ad-hoc community center for the residents of Renaissance Village, a trailer community for evacuees. As part of the New Orleans Public Library, the Shelter Library will serve these residents as they return home to rebuild.
"The Shelter Library has provided all of us at ProQuest with a deep sense of pride and fulfillment. It made a tangible difference to parents and children in need, and underscores the important roles that libraries play in our communities," said David "Skip" Prichard, president of ProQuest Information and Learning. "We are delighted that it will continue its service mission to the people of New Orleans."
More than a content provider or aggregator, ProQuest is an information partner, creating indispensable research solutions that connect people and information. Through innovative, user-centered discovery technology, ProQuest offers billions of pages of global content that includes historical newspapers, dissertations, and uniquely relevant resources for researchers of any age and sophistication—including content not likely to be digitized by others. Inspired by its customers and their end users, ProQuest is working toward a future that blends information accessibility with community to further enhance learning and encourage lifelong enrichment.