4300 S. Broad St.
New Orleans, LA 70125
From the Family Favorite - Sponsored
April 4, 1954, the New Orleans Public Library opened its 11th location at 3841 Washington Avenue as the Norman Mayer Broadmoor Branch. It made a splash as the first air-conditioned public library in New Orleans, but it closed in 1981 due to the building’s significant structural problems. Twelve years later, it reopened inside the historic Hardie-Fattel House on the corner of S. Broad and Napoleon Avenues, where it still sits today. In 1997, it was renamed to honor Rosa F. Keller, the first woman to be appointed to the Library board and an important force in the 1954 desegregation of the New Orleans Public Library system.
In 2005, Keller was one of six Library locations completely destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, closing it for more than five years. The Broadmoor neighborhood as a whole suffered extensive damage from the storm. In early 2006, the Bring New Orleans Back Commission released their plans, suggesting much of Broadmoor be turned into a drainage park. However, the neighborhood’s outspoken and dedicated community balked at that idea and quickly organized against that plan with one of their own. Led by now-Mayor Latoya Cantrell and longtime resident Hal Roark, the Broadmoor Improvement Association successfully lobbied for their neighborhood — not only saving it from demolition, but also raising a phoenix from its water-logged ashes in the process. The BIA formed a variety of resident-led committees to rebuild their neighborhood, including one dedicated to revamping the neighborhood’s “education corridor,” with visions of a combination library and community center. Broadmoor neighbors would finally reap the benefits of their hard work in March of 2012 at the grand opening of the new and improved Rosa F. Keller Library & Community Center.
The new structure is one of seamless transition. The Library sensitively responds to the scale of the historic home, now restored as a community gathering space. Exterior spaces provide opportunities for neighborhood celebrations.
The building’s architects, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, have won several awards for the facility including the 2016 AIA National Library Award, 2014 Louisiana Landmarks Society Award of Excellence in Historic Preservation, 2014 AIA Louisiana Award of Merit, 2013 AIA Gulf States Honor Award, 2013 AIA New Orleans Honor Award, and 2012 IIDA Delta Region Award of Excellence.
Today, Keller Library & Community Center serves the Broadmoor community by providing residents with a gathering space for free programs, meetings, and valuable educational resources. The location boasts several non-traditional collections and offerings including a seed library, cake pan collection, and free period supplies. Keller Library & Community Center serves as a testament to community resolve and the role architecture and design play in urban revitalization.