New library to open by Jan. 11

East Baton Rouge Parish’s new $35 million main library on Goodwood Boulevard is expected to be open by Jan. 11.

Some weather delays have pushed back the soft opening of the new library from initial expectations, but much of the move’s heavy lifting began this week.

Workers have started using large gondolas to move the library’s collection from its nearby current site.

“There’s now more than 120,000 books in the new library — about quarter of the collection,” assistant library director Mary Stein said this week.

Library director Spencer Watts said the timeframe is tight but he expects the new library to be ready for business in about three weeks.

“It’s always an impressive sight when you start trying to move 500,000 items,” he said. “I think they’re picking up the pace as they go along.”

A two-story, stained-glass window — a feature of the new library that was donated and depicts fluttering purple martins — also has been installed, Watts said.

Monday will be the last day of service at the current Goodwood library building, but officials have arranged to have a bookmobile set up during the daytime until the new library opens next month.

“We’re going to try to keep it there as much as we can,” Watts said.

The current library building will eventually be torn down to make way for parking for the new library.

The new high-tech, environmentally friendly and state-of-the-art main library, which is being funded through the system’s 10-year dedicated property tax, will have meeting spaces, study rooms and more than 130 public computers. It also will have a drive-through window and, eventually, will offer self-checkout service.

Once work is complete on the new main library, Watts said leaders will shift their focus to the $19 million overhaul of the River Center Branch Library downtown, with that project moving ahead in January.