Alan Harris Stein, head of the city archives collection at the New Orleans Public Library, feared that the city's precious archives might be lost forever due to hurricane Katrina. He'd taken the chief archivist job in June 2004, and was still in the midst of mapping out a disaster plan for the library when the hurricane arrived. He also hadn't yet moved the special collections department from its inexplicable longtime home in the library's subbasement, something he'd planned to do once he'd settled into the job.
"One of the foibles of all this was that nobody had a key to the library," he says. "I closed on Saturday and left the key in my apartment thinking I'd be returning Tuesday or Wednesday, based on previous hurricanes." In fact, Stein ended up in Chicago and was not able to return for some time. Displaced staffers had to reconnect online to figure out who was still in town and had the keys to the place.
So it was a relief, not to mention a bit of a miracle, last Friday when Stein got word from the library's disaster cleanup people that the archives were safe and the building had only suffered minor damage.
You can read the details on the Chicago Journal web site.