Why is the New Orleans Public Library's URL www.nutrias.org?
As a history lover and voracious reader, Ol' Blake spends lots of time at the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL). Just as exciting as what you can find on the shelves is the treasure trove of information available on the library's website, the unique name of which you're not the first to question.
Some of my friends over there, including Irene Wainwright, head of the Louisiana Division and City Archives, joke that the story of the website itself would make a great book. According to Wainwright, the library's Internet presence was inaugurated April 1, 1995, a time when the Internet was still in its infancy. Before HTML code became the norm, she says, there was an alternative computer protocol called Gopher. The idea was developed at the University of Minnesota, which has as its mascot — you guessed it — the gopher. The folks at the NOPL decided to jokingly name their new website after the nutria, since the furry creature was the best local equivalent to the gopher. Wainwright says Nutrias later came to stand for: New Orleans Public Library's User-friendly, Technologically correct Research and Information Access System.
Years later, from a marketing and branding standpoint, we can see why the name may not have been the first choice, but it has served the library and its patrons well for nearly two decades. Nowadays, the preferred web address is www.neworleanspubliclibrary.org. Do yourself a favor and check it out or, better yet, head to your local library branch. Tell 'em Blake sent you.