Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bienvenue à la Toussaint L'Overture Bibliothèque!

It was the fine bone china laced with pretty pink roses that immediately caught my attention.  Stepping out of the street and into the warm, well-appointed room, my eyes widened with childlike delight as I saw the table in the entrance laid out with steaming hot chocolate and delicate, decadent truffles.  Ever so elegantly I removed my gloves (ok, maybe "elegantly" is a slight exaggeration; hey, it's my story & I'll embellish it if I want to), helped myself to some sweets, then wandered over to the nearest bookshelf to begin my self-guided tour.

Sipping hot chocolate and nibbling on truffles

The Toussaint L'Overture Community Library is located in New Toulouse, a private, historically- themed community that is based on New Orleans, Louisiana at the turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Role players are welcome but the dress code is not strict; Victorian, Edwardian, Flapper, and Creole Fashions are recommended for a truly immersive experience.  
Checking out the resources on the wall
The library itself is housed in a gracious, two-story building and decorated with plush, heavy curtains, intricate ironwork, and tasteful sculpture and paintings.  An affiliate of Information Island, they offer services and resources that reflect the interests of their communities (New Toulouse is comprised of 7 sims) and focus on open source materials that patrons can use, copy, and transfer as they wish.  

Gorgeous exhibition space 
The first floor of the library features their expansive collection; general subjects include  poetry, classics, music, fiction and history, while community-specific subjects feature Absinthe, Artists & Authors of La Belle Epoque, and the Louis Armstrong Collection.   Meandering over to the back corner, I was "awakened" (pa-dum-bum...psshhh!) by a mini-exhibit of Kate Chopin where I admired a lovely portrait of her and read a brief but enlightening biography on a notecard given to me by a carefully designed poster.

Surrounded by the library's namesake
Popping one last truffle in my mouth, I ventured upstairs to the gallery space where an exhibition entitled, "Celebrating our Namesake: Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803)" was on view.  Appreciating the varied artistic interpretations of Toussaint Louverture's image, I began clicking around, retrieving notecards full of biographical sketches and historical accounts about the inspirational revolutionary leader.

Although the exhibition took up most of the 2nd floor, there was a tiny slice set aside for a few more resources, including a bookshelf full of literature on Cajun Medical Traditions and another on Zydeco Music and Musicians.  A click on a stunning 1941 Gold Butterfly Mask led to a 6 minute YouTube video of Mardi Gras 1941.  

Slightly over-sugared from all those truffles, I started to make my way back downstairs in search of something savory when out of the corner of my eye I noticed wispy curls of steam rising from a large cast iron skillet. Drawing closer, my nose picked up the delicious scent of red beans & rice and Creole style Seafood Gumbo.  Grinning, I made myself a plate, found a place to perch, took a bite, and sighed with contentment as I let the soothing southern hospitality wash over me.  

~ 'til our next adventure,

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