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Metro Newsroom 

Main Library To Unveil Renovation at May 15 Open House

Thursday May 13, 2010

More than $11 million in repairs and improvements

necessitated by 2009 flood

Nine months and 11 days after sustaining nearly $8 million in flash flood damage, Louisville’s Main Library at Third and York Streets will host a Grand Re-Opening celebration with an Open House scheduled for Saturday, May 15, from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm. The announcement was made today by Mayor Jerry Abramson and Library Director Craig Buthod.

Visitors to the Open House will see the first three phases of more than $11 million worth of repairs, restoration, and renovation of the 102 year-old historic building. The Main Library took on six feet of water in its lower level and lost more than 50,000 books and 200 computers on August 4, 2009.

The initial flood recovery and repair included the replacement of all mechanical, electrical, lighting and elevator systems, replacement of all walls, floors, carpets, ceilings and lighting within affected areas and the rebuilding of nearly 60,000 square feet of the library’s operations center and historic stacks.

Taking advantage of construction already underway, library management, with the support of the Library Foundation, made the choice to move forward with additional renovations and improvements as outlined in the Library’s updated Master Plan. The Main Library Landmark Initiative includes a series of additional renovation projects including;

§ Restoration of the Main Library’s Great Hall has restored the historic grandeur of the 1908 building and includes repair and refurbishment of the two grand staircases, marble flooring,

§ A new 3,000 square foot children’s wing on the first floor, designed to facilitate age-appropriate reading groups and activity centers with state-of-the-art technology,

§ A 2,000 square foot teen center located on the lower level featuring computer centers, areas for quiet study and books for young adults,

§ A 350-seat auditorium designed for lectures, panel discussions and additional library events,

§ Refurbishment of the south wing’s second floor which includes the library’s highly successful “Job Shop,” reading rooms, and adult education classrooms which will be staffed by the Jefferson County Public Schools Adult Education Division in the fall,

§ Landscape improvements around both the 1908 building and the 1969 addition, as well as cleaning, sealing and preserving of the limestone on the exterior of the historic south wing.

“It is exciting to see our landmark library come back better and stronger,” said Abramson. “While she has been able to continue to be of service during this difficult time, it is wonderful to see her restored to her original grandeur and updated to be even more prepared to handle the community’s library needs for now and in the future.”

“Together, the flood recovery and Landmark Initiative projects constitute the largest capital library project since 1969 when the Main Library’s north side wing was added,” said Buthod. “We have come to think of our improvements as the silver lining of what was undoubtedly a very dark cloud.”

The Library Foundation has received more than $200,000 from local, regional and national donors as a direct result of the flood. The Foundation continues to seek funding to complete the restoration of the Main Library through its Landmark Initiative. Additional projects are being funded by available Metro Government capital funds. The majority of flood recovery costs were covered by Metro Government insurance.

The Main Library was built in 1908 and the north side 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 9pm and Friday and Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm. For more information, go to or call 502-574-1611.

For more information about the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, go to Donations can be made to the Library Foundation, 301 York Street Louisville, KY, 40203.