Louisville Free Public Library

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Louisville Free Public Library
The Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) is the largest public library system in Kentucky. Officially opened in 1908, the library's main site resides south of Broadway in downtown Louisville. Additional branches were added over time, including the Western Colored Branch, which was the first Carnegie-housed library in the U.S. built solely for African Americans. In 1950 the library became the first library in the nation to put its own FM-radio station on the air" WFPL. A second station, WFPK, joined it a few years later. Then in 1969, a $4 million north building was added to the Revival-style Carnegie structure. This provided an additional 110,000 square feet (10,000 m 2) of floor space, compared to the 42,000 in the original building. At one time LFPL had over 30 branches, but because of lack of funding a number of branches were forced to close. Currently, there are 16 branches, in addition to the main library site. Internet services and inter-library loan have helped to make up for fewer branches. In 2007, a proposed tax increase to pay for Louisville Free Public Library improvements and ongoing costs was soundly defeated in spite of strong support by many political and business leaders. Nonetheless, with the help of the Library Foundation and community support a new education and technology driven $1.9 million branch library was completed and opened in the Newburg area (a traditionally underserved community) in August of 2009. In early August of 2009 the main branch was flooded when a storm dropped 7 inches of water on the city in 75 minutes. The library servers, bookmobiles, offices, and processing rooms were under 6 feet of water. 50,000 books were destroyed, and the building severely damaged with a total estimate of $5 million. Structural, mechanical, electrical, and computer systems damage were near complete forcing the main library to close for several weeks. Other branches in the system in hard hit areas were closed for a few days while damage was assessed and cleanup undertaken. Overall, however, the library system itself remained open for business throughout the event. The last time the main building flooded was in the Ohio_River_flood_of_1937 Ohio River Flood of 1937. Two other branches of the library system were damaged or effected in the flooding as well: Bon Air Regional Branch, Iroquois Branch, and Shawnee Branch libraries. Despite the level of damage, library services at all branches, including the main, have been able to return to near full service.

Renovations and Improvements
In August 2009, when a record rainfall dumped more than 3 feet of water into the basement of the Louisville Free Public Library’s Main Library at Fourth and York streets, the damages to the facility and its holdings amounted to nearly $8 million. Library management decided that rather than simply repair the damage, they would move ahead with plans to renovate and improve the Main Library with millions of dollars in capital improvements, especially its South Building, which fronts on York Street. By the end of 2010, the library expects to have spent about $12 million on renovations and improvements .