It was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when filmmaking couple Dawn Logsdon and Lucie Faulknor really came to appreciate libraries. After their New Orleans home was flooded in the storm, they found themselves outside a library in Baton Rogue, where lines stretched around the block to submit disaster relief applications online.
“It was the only place to go to fill out information,” Logsdon said. “The city and state government all failed miserably where the library was able to help.”
Now they’re aiming to make a first-of-its-kind documentary called “Free for All,” exploring why Americans are using public libraries in record numbers and what would happen to democracy if libraries became extinct.
For some New Orleanians, the story of the post-Katrina public library system’s resurrection might read like a never-ending tale. While officials managed to reopen five of the 13 storm-damaged locations quickly, many neighborhoods have been forced to rely on makeshift mini-libraries housed in trailers, bookmobiles, elementary schools and abandoned retail spaces, including a former video rental store on North Carrollton Avenue.
But the long wait for many book lovers in hard-hit areas is about to end as City Hall prepares to cut the ribbons on five new state-of-the-art libraries over the next few months, including three in rapid-fire succession beginning this week.