From the SoFAB Director’s Desk: The Opening of SoFAB Culinary Library


LIZ WILLIAMS

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The SoFAB Culinary Library officially opens October 30, 2013. You can catch a sneak preview and meet authors Adrian Miller and Kathleen Purvis on September 21, 2013 at 2 pm.

Even before we opened the museum in June 2008, SoFAB was collecting books for a culinary library. Now we have about 11,000 volumes of cookbooks, whose subjects include food, nutrition, cocktails, agriculture, restaurants, fisheries, home gardens, catering, starting a restaurant, and chef biographies. We have accumulated many community cookbooks and pamphlets, thousands of menus and wonderful papers of writers and chefs. We have postcards, as well as a growing collection of photos.

When we temporarily closed the museum in Spring of 2013, we put the culinary library collection and all our other collections in storage and began patiently waiting as we began building a permanent home and culinary library on Oretha Castle Haley in New Orleans. It was like a dam had been built. I am happy to say that the dam has broken.

We are happy to announce the opening of the SoFAB Culinary Library (in partnership with the New Orleans Public Library) on October 30 at 2 pm. If you are in New Orleans, mark your calendars, because we will be ringing bells. However, we will have a sneak preview on September 21 at 2 pm in advance of the October opening. On September 21, not only will those who cannot wait to see the library be able to see its bones without books, but there will be a terrific program. Adrian Miller, author of Soul Food, and Kathleen Purvis, author of Bourbon, will be talking about these two important aspects of southern food.  How could anyone stay away?

The library building at 1609 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in New Orleans

We are still collecting books.  We hope that the next time you cull your cookbooks or other books about food and drink, that you will remember SoFAB. In fact, bring a cookbook with you to the program. This is especially important as we hope to grow the SoFAB Culinary Library into a solid resource and a broadly based institution. We want to be a repository – that place that you can visit to use esoteric and obscure resources.

Additionally, we want to grow the finest children’s culinary collection that is possible – with a goal of whole person literacy. Learning to read, learning about a healthy life, learning about math are all aspects of whole person literacy. And what better place is there to learn about and reinforce these skills than in a kitchen cooking with friends and family? We do not limit ourselves to reading literacy when the same books and a bit of work in the kitchen can help us to inform a whole person. A civilization is passed on in the kitchen. Knowing this we want to emphasize the importance of children’s culinary literature.

The new flooring in sun-filled culinary library space. Photo by Stephen Binns

It is our plan to just grow and grow. If we need another space, we will expand. There needs to be a place that can collect books, papers, photos, pamphlets, invoices, letters, and who knows what else, for there is no better documentation of the thing than the thing itself. We all eat, so this is a library, archive and study center for us all. The culinary students, journalists, chefs, scholars, home cooks, and the merely curious are all welcome.

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