Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Baton Rouge's downtown library hosts soft opening Friday morning

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BATON ROUGE - After a chaotic two-year stretch rife with construction issues and legal battles, the River Center Branch Library in downtown is nearly ready for its first visitors.

On Wednesday, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library system shared photos of the finished interior at its newest location on North Boulevard, showing off numerous computer set-ups, lounge areas and shelves stocked with books.

The first look inside the completed library comes more than two years after the city discovered compromises in the structure, raising fears at the time that it could partially collapse.

The library's overhang was propped up by hydraulic jacks for more than a year as a legal fight unfolded over who would foot the bill for repairs. The metro council approved a proposal from the mayor last year to finance the roughly $2.7 million in repairs until legal matters are settled.

“This type of litigation could take between two and five years to complete. During this period of time, the library would remain vacant and unfinished. Not only would the building become an eyesore in the center of Downtown Baton Rouge, but it could become compromised to the point that significant additional repair work would be required,” the mayor said at the time. “Expediting the completion of the building protects the substantial investment made by taxpayers.”

After yet another delay last month, it was announced the River Center Branch Library would open in late June. A soft opening is now scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 26.

Parish libraries will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Officials say at least 100 people will be allowed into the new library at a time under current coronavirus restrictions. 

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