This library has quite the history, dating back to the early 1900’s and George’s wife Cita Dennis Hubbell helped bring it back to life when everyone had all but given up on this little piece of New Orleans history.
The library, which first opened in December of 1907, was one of five libraries in the New Orleans area established with money from Andrew Carnegie. Of those five libraries, only the Hubbell Library and The Children’s Resource Center on Napoleon Avenue survive today. In the early 1960’s, the library was closed due to deterioration of the building- a leaky roof, plaster falling from the ceiling and buckling floors were just some of the issues with the building. There were rumors that the building was going to be restored, but years passed and the building was just left to rot.
Neighborhood resident Cita Dennis Hubbell saw the potential in this old library. A mother and a military wife, Cita thought that a smaller neighborhood library would do well to serve children, the elderly and the poor of the neighborhood on a more personal level. Many in the neighborhood agreed with her, especially since the building itself was a notable piece of architecture and a historic Carnegie library. Mrs. Hubbell and her volunteers took to the phones and thus started a campaign to renovate and restore the neighborhood library. It was a success and the library reopened on October 14th, 1975 with 20,000 books on the shelves. Following her death in 2001, the library was renamed for Mrs. Hubbell and rededicated as the Cita Dennis Hubbell Branch in 2002.
Fortunately, the library escaped major damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, however there were structural concerns that pre-dated the storm. The library closed again on May 24th, 2008 while city officials assessed what needed to be done to the library and bring it up to code. A building behind the Algiers Courthouse was used as a makeshift library while renovations were done on the main building and the library reopened in July of 2013.
Today, Cita’s husband George Hubbell can still be found at the library that he and his wife loved so much. Seale Paterson is the librarian of the Cita Dennis Hubbell Library and has been since January of 2006 and the library hosts a series of events every month, that are fun for adults and children. On the second Tuesday of each month, a local author stops in to discuss their latest work. Story time is held every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 am, movies for kids are shown on Saturdays at 10:30 am and 2:00 pm and the library offers computer classes and tutoring by appointment. Also, most recently, Hubbell Library has begun hosting Drag Queen Story Time- a fun story time in which a local drag queen reads children’s books to a group of happy kids. Drag Queen Story Time has only happened twice so far, but has been a huge hit with parents and children alike. Also, Hubbell Library serves as International School of Louisiana’s main school library, so it’s not unusual to see the library packed with school children on any given day. With a wide selection of books, movies and computers, people of all ages are welcome at the library and are sure to have a great time.