Ascension Parish Library's Donaldsonville branch goes back to drawing board amid soaring building costs

Staff Report
The Ascension Parish Library in Donaldsonville has been closed temporarily for renovations.

As construction costs have skyrocketed, the Ascension Parish Library's renovation of the Donaldsonville branch forced library leaders to look for ways to save money.

In the January newsletter, APL Director John Stelly shared an update on the renovation of its location at the corner of Mississippi Street and Lessard Street. The library has been operating out of a temporary location across the street, at 420 Mississippi Street.

In an April 2022 file photo, Henry Schexnayder and Ascension Parish Library Director John Stelly unveil one of the plaques that will be installed at each library location memory of the late Angelle Deshautelles, who served as director.

Stelly stated the project still includes things promised, such as the digital media labs and makerspaces.

"We can't wait to show you around when construction is completed," Stelly wrote in the newsletter.

He mentioned the Donaldsonville renovation and the construction of a new branch in St. Amant are both set for this year.

Shown front, from left, are: Henry J. Schexnayder, III, APL Board Chairman; President Clint Cointment;
Teri Casso serving double duty as councilwoman and (ex-officio) APL Board Parliamentarian;
Tyana Daquano, Public Information Officer; Lisa Bacala, Vice Chairman; John Stelly, Library 
Director; Carrie Goodall, Acquisitions Librarian; 
Christopher Achee: Assistant Library Director; back row, from left: Ascension Parish Council members Joel Robert, Travis Turner, Corey Orgeron, Dempsey Lambert, Alvin Thomas, John Cagnolatti, Dal Waguespack, Aaron Lawler, 
Michael Mason, and Chase Melancon.

Looking back on 2022, Stelly stated APL was one of 21 libraries in the nation chosen to participate in STEM Tales, a program for children ages four to eight and their families.

Additionally, the library introduced the Adventure Pass Collection, an extension of APL's Library of Things, which allows cardholders to borrow passes to regional museums like The National World War II Museum, BREC's Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, Louisiana Arts and Science Museaum, USS Kidd Veterans Museum, and the LSU Museum of Art.

The USS Kidd Veterans Museaum is docked in the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.

The passes provided Ascension Parish residents and their families the opportunity to explore without the monetary burden.

The library also removed barriers to information and expanded access and equity to materials by going fine-free.

Additionally, he pointed out APL has a variety of health and wellness workshops, resources for business, and educational courses.

APL's branches also include Gonzales at 708 South Irma Blvd., Dutchtown at13278 Hwy. 73, and Galvez at 40300 Hwy. 42.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.