Dryades Street Library and YMCA

Today home to the Dryades YMCA, this beautiful building, erected in 1915, was the first New Orleans Public Library created to serve black New Orleanians and had the capacity to hold 10,000 books.

In the early 1900s, only white citizens and black attorneys were permitted to use New Orleans public libraries, a cause for great concern among many black leaders in the city. James Hardy Dillard, Tulane Professor and advocate for African American education, persuaded the Andrew Carnegie Foundation to donate $25,000 for the construction of a library for black New Orleanians. [1,2]

The library was designed by architect William R. Burke and construction completed on October 24, 1915. [3] The museum's opening ceremony was cause for great celebration, numerous black civic leaders spoke at the event. [1, 2]

In addition to circulating books and providing popular educational programming for children and adults, the Dryades Library became home to civic meetings, including the Negro Board of Trade, the NAACP, and the YMCA. [1, 2]

In 1955 under the leadership of Rosa Keller, the board of the New Orleans Public Library desegregated the NOPL system. [4] In 1965 Dryades Street Library closed due to damages wrought by Hurricane Betsy. The building was purchased by the YMCA and converted into a community center that is still in use today. [2]



2200 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70113