by: Andrew Lopez
and Bob Monie
|Delgado's reading room circa 1940s, photo lost after Hurricane Katrina, copied from Between the Shelves (Fall 1995)|
|Mrs. Joseph Font, the first librarian at Delgado, 1926|
|Breland's cookbook praised in the New York Times Book Review|
|Robert Brydon Jr.'s book on aircraft drafting|
|Robert Brydon Jr., 1924|
Miss Moss, as she preferred to be called, the daughter of Dr. Benjamin Moss, a physician and avid book collector, had been a friend of Isaac Delgado's aunt, Virginia, for many years. She, like the Delgados, lived in an Italianate mansion in the Garden District and is buried in Metairie Cemetery, a short distance from the Delgado family tomb. Though long acquainted with Mr. Isaac Delgado, Miss Moss did not become close friends with him until Virginia, on her death bed, asked her to be his companion and read to him because he was losing his sight and his overall health was deteriorating from diabetes and kidney disease. (Recounted from Stephen Patureau's 1939 interview with Miss Moss in Patureau “A History of the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School,” unpublished M.A. Thesis, Tulane University, 1939: 26-27).
|The Garden District Home where Ellenora Moss lived|
|The grave of Elleonora Moss in Metairie Cemetery|
|Elleonora Moss and Rudolph Matas M.D. at launching of the S.S. Isaac Delgado|
|Benjamin Moss, M.D.|
On May 5, 1961, the city council adopted “a motion accepting a legacy of $150,000 bequeathed in the will of Mrs. Elleonore [sic] E. Moss for a memorial library.” On Aug. 2, this information was printed again, for a second time, in the Times-Picayune newspaper:
|$150,000 bequeathed to Delgado by Miss Elleonora Moss for a library, Times-Picayune Aug. 2, 1961|
|Delgado receives library fund, court document verifies transfer of funds to President and Board Chairman, Oct 1961|
Two years later, on Aug. 15, 1963, ceremonies were held in the rear of Delgado to mark the beginning of the $300,000 Moss Memorial Library. The newspaper reported that then acting Mayor Joseph V. Di Rosa would be present, and that construction of the library building was made possible by a $150,000 endowment from Miss Moss and an additional $150,000 provided by the Delgado Albania Fund. The next day this picture was published, featuring acting Mayor Di Rosa, Delgado President Marvin Thames, and a librarian, Mrs. Cynthia McGoey, breaking ground for the new building:
|Construction of the library begins, Times Picayune Aug 16, 1963|
|Delgado's new library, March 1965|
|The library's statement of purpose in the College Catalog, 1965-1966|
|The library handbook from 1965, designed and printed at Delgado and the library building in 1960s|
Throughout the 1960s and 70s there were public and College events of all sorts held at the Moss Memorial Library. The library must have seemed not just like the center of campus to folks at Delgado, but also a site of significance to the entire city of New Orleans and beyond. Indeed, it hosted film screenings, artistic, cultural, and historical exhibits of all sorts.
|Additions to library|
|Events and life at the library in the 1970s|
By the 1990s, cataloging duties in the library at City Park had been expanded again to include materials for the Slidell location. It was in the 1990s that the library began to provide computer access. There was also an official relationship with the New Orleans Public Library at the time, as the Times-Picayune reported on March 1, 1990. The short blurb encouraged readers to “check out the new ‘browsing collection’ mini-branch [...] on the first floor of Delgado Community College’s Moss Memorial Library.” Four years later, Leonora Lockett, the library director at the time, reported in the library newsletter on the maintenance of Moss Memorial Library’s “status as a mini-branch of New Orleans Public Library” (Fall 1994). It was also in 1994 that the Times-Picayune announced a “ribbon-cutting celebration for ISAAC (Information Service Automated Access Catalog),” the online debut of the library catalog, which got its name from Delgado student Anita Chee’s winning entry in a contest to name the new catalog (Between the Shelves, Fall 1994).
The first decade of the new millennium has been all but eclipsed by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Like many institutions in the area, the full scope of what exactly was lost is not yet well understood, though it is clear that much is gone forever. Mid-decade, the library was operating out of four different Delgado locations: City Park, West Bank, Slidell, and Charity School of Nursing. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” Library Dean Denise Repman wrote in the Louisiana Libraries journal, “there were no print books or periodicals, no access to online resources or e-books, or for that matter, no Delgado Community College City Park Library” (Spring 2008). The Moss Memorial Library building was so badly damaged it had to be demolished.
|Marietta College students helped to remove moldy books after Katrina|
Beginning in May 2007, the City Park Campus library has been temporarily housed in Building 10, Room 116, where about 22,000 print volumes and other materials can be stored. Unfortunately, the majority of Moss Memorial Library’s outstanding collection of some 150,000 print book volumes — which circulate regularly through institutions across New Orleans via inter-library lending — are currently housed in closed stacks trailers on the opposite side of the campus. There are 200+ current print periodical subscriptions for the educational and research needs of students, faculty, and staff working in all areas of study and training at Delgado. Within the library there is a computer lab with 18 computers, a print station, microfilm readers, and a very busy photocopier. There are about 85,000 e-books; 95,000 electronic journals; and 122 databases available online exclusively from the library’s website or Blackboard.
|Temporary housing for the library in Building 10 since 2007, most materials stored in trailers, pictures taken 2012|
Plans for the future include construction of a new state-of-the-art Library Learning Commons on the site of the former library building, scheduled for sometime in 2014. While the name Moss Memorial Library will not be carried over to the new building, which is supposed to be named after former Delgado President Marvin Thames, according to Library Dean Denise Repman, there is interest in retaining the legacy of Miss Moss by naming a room in the new building after her. True to the Learning Commons concept, the new building is supposed to be shared with Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (DLIT), a media center, and some tutoring labs, including reading, writing, and ESL. In the interest of meeting the growing demand for courses and record-high levels of enrollment at Delgado, now the biggest institution of higher education in the New Orleans area, the new library building is eagerly anticipated, just as it was 50 years ago.