at 1609 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
SoFAB has partnered with the New Orleans Public Library to make our Culinary Library the first public culinary library in the South. The Southern Food and Beverage (SoFab) Museum’s vast culinary literature collection will be available to the public in its very own branch of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL). Located at 1609 O.C. Haley Blvd., the NOPL’s new branch will contain over 9,000 volumes of cookbooks, menus, recipes, archival documents and other literature pertaining to the food and food ways of the American South, all collected by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. The non-circulating collection is scheduled to be open in 2013.
This partnership to create a library devoted to the culinary traditions and cultures of the South will take the city one step further in the development of the most advanced library system possible for the citizens of New Orleans. The branch will be available to all citizens, students and scholars. “SoFab and NOPL wish to create a resource center for both the serious scholar of culinary arts and the budding Southern home cook,” says Liz Williams, president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum And Williams says that outside fundraising efforts are underway to complete and operate the facility. “No taxpayer dollars are being used for the project,” she says.
Williams says the new collection will benefit students from around the region, including students from the Institute for the Study of Culinary Cultures at Dillard University, the culinary students at Delgado Community College, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, the Louisiana Culinary Institute, University of New Orleans, and Nunez Community College. “The SoFAB collection was created from tragedy,” she says. “The original collection of about 2,000 books, as well as the computer that held all of the collection information, was lost during Hurricane Katrina. We had to start all over again, and we did. We put out a call for help in recovering the drowned heritage, and the world responded. Over 9,000 volumes of culinary history, cookbooks and reference books came in to the SoFAB collection; so many that they overwhelmed the museum’s own space.”
Williams says the collection is important because food plays a central role in the life of the city. “This collection adds an intellectual component to the city’s food heritage. It represents the nourishment of the mind, as well as the body.” And, according to new library director, Charles Brown, “The SoFab Library also envisions creating a collection of children’s materials related to food, nutrition and the culinary arts.” Brown says once the collection is complete it will be the most comprehensive of its kind found anywhere in the country.
Please contact us if you want to donate any cookbooks, food books, or menus to the library.
We had Howard University volunteers in town for a few days, so we had them help us paint the outside of the building and plant trees! Many thanks to those incredible volunteers. They wrote a little bit about their experiences too here and here.