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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Main Library Reopens to Public Today

Thursday August 27, 2009

Main Floor Access Includes Full Range of Library Services

Twenty-three days after sustaining more than $5 million in flood damage, Louisville’s Main Library at 3rd and York Streets reopened to the general public today. Mayor Jerry Abramson and Library Director Craig Buthod presided over a ceremonial “door-opening” to mark the public’s access to the library’s first floor which offers a full range of library services including books to check out, internet computers, the children’s library, and CDs, DVDs and recorded audiobooks.

The 101 year-old facility was closed to the public following a freak flash flood caused by torrential rains on August 4th which resulted in more than six feet of water in the library’s operations center. The lower level, mezzanine and second floor are still off limits to patrons. Continuing repairs to the elevators, HVAC systems and other facets of the facility are expected to be completed later in the year.

“We are gratified and relieved that our historic Main Library is back in business,” said Abramson. “While we have been able to offer library services at our 16 other branches, the Main Library is a proud symbol of what an important community asset our libraries are. It’s great to have her back.”

Early estimates projected that the library would partially reopen around Labor Day. “Our staff and contractors have been committed and we have worked hard to get this library reopened as soon as possible,” said Buthod. “We are especially grateful to the Fire Marshal for his help in devising a new public safety plan that allowed us to reopen the library earlier than expected. From the very beginning of this experience, the safety of library patrons and staff has been our highest priority. We’ve missed our regular patrons and look forward to once again being an important center of activity for this community.”

Regular visitors to the Main Library will notice several significant changes brought on by the flood recovery. Temporary air conditioning equipment is now set up on the plazas surrounding the north building, with bright yellow ventilation tubes carrying air into the building. A new non-fiction collection is being added to the main floor, since the collections on the upper floor will not be available to patrons who wish to browse. More than 50 internet computers are available for public use, but some book titles are not available. More than 50,000 books were lost in the flood and replacing them will take several weeks. Library users are encouraged to work closely with library staff and ask for assistance during this transitional time.

“We see this as an opportunity to talk to our customers about the services we offer and to bring the library back even stronger than it was before the flood. We are focused on the future,” said Buthod.

Library Foundation Chair Paul Thompson praised the community for its “tremendous show of support during such a difficult time.” Nearly $100,000 in donations have been received from 450 donors to date in response to the flood damage. Donations can be made online or by mail:

The Library Foundation
301 York Street
Louisville, KY  40203
Attn: Flood

The Main Library was built in 1908 and the northside section added in 1969. The library on York Street sees an average of 2,200 visitors per day. It is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am until 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm. 

Visit the Louisville Free Public Library website at or call 502-574-1611.