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In observance of the Presidents Day holiday, the Daily Chronicle newspaper will not be published February 18. Breaking news and information will be updated on Daily-Chronicle.com.
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Librarian flees Katrina for DeKalbHer branch library was ruined, so she lands job at Northern

Daisy Porter at her desk at NIU’s Founder’s Memorial Library.
Provided photo NIU Public Affairs
Daisy Porter at her desk at NIU’s Founder’s Memorial Library. Provided photo NIU Public Affairs

DeKALB - Northern Illinois University Libraries gained more in creating a fellowship for a New Orleans librarian misplaced by Hurricane Katrina than it gave. Mary Munroe, associate dean for library collections and technical services, said the library has been &#8220thrilled” with the work of Daisy Porter, who started a six-month Visiting Katrina Fellowship with the library Oct. 10. &#8220We used some money we had for extra help and decided it would be a good thing to offer a position to someone from New Orleans,” Munroe said. &#8220We wanted to do something nice, but we got so much more than expected. We're getting more than we're giving.” The library got the expertise of Porter, who grew up in Chicago, received a master's in library science from the University of Illinois and has special training in children's literature. She's worked the past two years as the assistant manager at East New Orleans Regional Branch Library. But Porter said she's also gained a lot from the university, such as employment while she figures out where to make her permanent home. She's applied for positions in Chicago, North California and New Orleans. She said she also appreciates being near her family in Chicago and her brother, Joe, an NIU junior in political science. &#8220I'm delighted to be here,” she said. She works two days a week on the reference desk and other days putting rare and old books into a special collection. Porter left New Orleans the day before the Hurricane Katrina hit and returned to Chicago to stay with her sister. &#8220During my two years in New Orleans, there were several hurricane scares,” she said. &#8220I packed up and went north, but the hurricanes always turned. You ended up just wasting a few days.” She also expected Katrina to turn. Instead of staying a few days with her sister, she stayed with her for two months. &#8220For the first six weeks, I had no idea what was going to happen,” she said. &#8220I thought I'd be able to return after a few days, but then they weren't letting people into the city. About a month after the hurricane, I heard all city workers, including library workers, had been laid off, so I started looking for a job.” About 90 percent of New Orleans library workers were laid off and the library system won't be fully functional for a while, she said. Currently, the main New Orleans library is open four hours a day to allow people to use the Internet and to serve as a FEMA application center. She believes two branch libraries also are open for a few hours a week for similar purposes. &#8220People aren't allowed to check out books yet,” she said. When Porter returned to New Orleans last month to learn what happened to her library, she ran into a traffic jam. &#8220I was delighted because I thought no one would be there,” she said. &#8220In other areas of the city, there was no one, the power was out, there were no street signs and giant piles of debris lined the street.” Her library also was a sad site. &#8220The entire building will have to be gutted and what wasn't ruined by water has been ruined by mold,” she said. &#8220The doors aren't even locked because there's nothing to steal. The books and computers are ruined. The parking lot has dead fish in it.” Her apartment, which was west of the French Quarter, however, was nearly untouched by the storm. &#8220There was only one broken window pane in my apartment,” she said, and her belongings were fine. She moved them to an apartment in DeKalb. Since she's been in town, she joined a gym, spends time with her dog and two cats and visits Chicago. She gets together with her brother about once a week for dinner. &#8220I've just been carrying on,” she said. Renee Messacar can be reached at rmessacar@daily-chronicle.com.

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