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Lawmakers shown effects of deferred LSU maintenance

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BATON ROUGE - LSU is looking for $450 million dollars to cover maintenance projects which have been repeatedly put off across the campus, including improvements to the building where historic maps are housed.

John Anderson, the director of the Cartographic Information Center, said he has to stay vigilant to keep the thousands of historic maps from getting wet due to air conditioner or roof leaks.

"The first thing I do is look for water on the floor," he said. "I spent two days last time cleaning up a water leak."

The roof has leaked nearly half a dozen times in the last decade, sometimes ruining the maps which date back to the 1700s. It's one reason why LSU's new president, F. King Alexander, took legislators on a tour of buildings in need of state dollars.

Senator Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge was one of those lawmakers.

"When they're in tough times, you concentrate a little more on the people rather than the maintenance, so there's a lot of deferred maintenance that has been, not overlooked, but just couldn't be paid for at LSU," Claitor said.

The map library is used for projects across the nation, and the tarps protecting the maps make it difficult to work.

"Not being able to access the collection underneath the tarps as readily and quickly as possible, the constant shifting from one place to another, sometimes I liken it to one of those Chinese tile puzzles, where you move things around until you get to where you want," said Anderson.

Now the real puzzle is finding the money at the Capitol to make the necessary improvements. 

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