Arts and Humanities Local News

Library Flood Recovery Fund Gets Nearly $100,000

Financial donations have been pouring into the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation since the August 4th flash floods caused nearly $5 million of damage at the library’s main branch. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Foundation director Mary Hunt says the Library Foundation has received nearly $100,000 for the Flood Recovery Fund, and that donations are still coming in.

“It has slowed down a little,” says Hunt, “but I’d say it peaked early last week and we’ve got people doing fundraisers for us.”

Businesses  and other groups have organized events. But Hunt says a large part of the donations are from individuals and range from $1 to $10,000.

This comes after the recession caused an 18 percent decline in household income, but only a 2 percent drop in individual giving, says Patrick Rooney, who heads the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University.

“It suggests that Americans have remained very committed to philanthropy,” Rooney says, “and that they have been quite generous during a difficult period in our history.”

Hunt, of the Library Foundation, says the donations have come from an array of individuals and organizations.

Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble both came to us and wanted to do fundraisers for us,” she says. “And then you have that grassroots level, everything from Consuming Louisville dot com bake sales to blogs. And then you have this national response from 23 different states.”

Hunt says many donors have held fundraising events without being asked to.

“People doing fundraisers for us, just came to us and said, ‘We want to do this for you’ — people like Whole Foods, and Barnes and Noble, and the Louisville Bar Association and the University of Kentucky-Louisville Alumni Club.

The August 4th flash floods caused nearly $5 million of damage at the library’s main branch. The library’s director, Craig Buthod, has said it hasn’t yet been determined how much will be covered by insurance.

Hunt says the library foundation is still holding its annual fundraising campaign that started with the new fiscal year in July. She says the foundation wants to raise $1 million for reading materials and scholarships for staff among other things.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Library Reopens Main Branch's First Floor to the Public

The Louisville Free Public Library reopened today after more than three weeks of clean up that carted away nearly 90 dumpsters of debris following the August 4th flood.

Mayor Jerry Abramson announced the reopening of the library just after noon along with library director Craig Buthod. The goal was to reopen before Labor Day.

Buthod says the public will have access to the main floor for now.

Library Reopens 017“The children’s room, the public computers, big parts of the book collection, the periodicals, the librarians’ desk and the check-out functions are all on the main floor,” Buthod says. “So, if there’s something that you need that’s still up in the top stacks, one of the library staff will go up and get it for you.”

The upper floors of the main branch are still not accessible by elevator.

Buthod says the building’s restoration is now entering its second phase.

“The emergency is over,” he says. “We are now going through a more methodical process and procurement processes, like competitive bidding, will dictate the timetable.”

The library sustained nearly $5 million in damage. The restoration will include purchasing new equipment and rebuilding the basement offices and the infrastructure for the telephone and computer systems.

Buthod says most of the renovations will be to replace what was destroyed in the basement.

“We’ll be bringing in all the different trades, everything from the people who put up the walls, the electricians who do the wiring, the computer technicians who do the computer wiring,” Buthod says. “And then we’ll put down flooring and carpet and make this look like an office again.”

Buthod says works to reconstruct basement offices and telephone and computer infrastructure is a big part of the rebuilding phase that he hopes will be done by the end of the year.

He says hundreds of people donated nearly $10,000 to the Library Recovery Fund.Library Reopens 032

Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News

Library Getting Outpouring of Donations After Flood

Individual households and organizations as large as the University of Louisville are continuing the clean-up and reparations after this month’s flash flood. And the Louisville Free Public Library is working on overcoming nearly $5 million in damages to its main branch. Meanwhile, the response the library has received since August 4 has come from both the local community and via the virtual world. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

Greg Schwartz is a manager at the library, and on August 4th, he was downstairs at about 9 that morning when he saw water near a men’s room door.

“I was completely surprised,” he says, “to open the door and find both urinals and both toilets overflowing — just gushing water.”

Library FloodedHe and other staff tried to stop — then sop — the water, before evacuating the building. Then he sent out a message via Twitter to librarians he’s befriended through a loosely-knit group calling itself the Library Society of the World.

Steve Lawson, a librarian in Colorado Springs, Colorado, says he read this note: “’It’s a hell of a day so far. Thanks to everyone sending the well wishes.’”

Through links Schwartz sent, Lawson looked at photos and read news reports. They got him thinking about what he could do.

“Late that night,” he says, “I wrote a post on my blog.”

Not only did he write about the calamity, he put a PayPal button up so people could give money for the library and set a $5,000 goal by Sept. 1.

“The first donation was at 5:30 in the morning my time,” he says.

And in less than 24 hours he raised $1,000. His total so far stands at more than $3,000 from 94 people.

Since then generosity towards the Louisville Free Public Library has come from far and wide.

At the library’s main branch up to 160 people have been at work on some days: cleaning, hauling, sorting and starting to rebuild. Library director Craig Buthod has been splitting his time between the donated space for library staff in the Heyburn building and here. He says one early encounter with the largesse was when a library staffer went to purchase computer equipment.

“We had to capture the data on the library’s file servers and offload it to external hard drives. So, we went out to Best Buy and the manager at Best Buy said, “You need some help this week. We’re going to donate the hard drives.”

Other businesses have been giving as well — from area grocery stores donating food for the workers’ lunches to an Indiana publishing company donating $3,000 worth of services to help restore any books. And a local blogger has organized a bake sale.

Mary Hunt is executive director of the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, which raises money for the library.

“I immediately started getting calls,” she says, “about people wanting to help: people wanting to help dry out books; help clean up; make gifts. It was amazing.”

So far, the Library’s Flood Recovery Fund has raised about $60,000, but the library’s losses — including the massive damage to the building’s heating, cooling and electrical systems — cost nearly a hundred times that. Buthod and Hunt say they are still waiting to find out how much insurance will cover.

Hunt says that the enthusiasm she’s seen from so many people is something she hopes the library can channel into long-term support.

“Our priority now is to be sure the library gets back to the condition it was before the flood and preferably even better,” she says. “Of course, we want to keep the people who have made gifts for the Flood Recovery Fund — we’d like to keep them as donors for the future. You know, we hope that they will continue to appreciate the library not just because we need help right now because of the flood. But the library always needs help.”

And many fundraising experts agrees. One is Lucy Bernholz, president of Blueprint Research and Design, an advisory firm that publishes a blog on the business of giving.

“The thing will be to keep up the attention,” she says, “because the library, no doubt, has both immediate needs and ongoing needs, and really take advantage of this opportunity to keep a very public conversation about the public library as a resource.”

In the two fiscal years, the library foundation has raised about $1 million annually. But for now, it’s not clear if the current outpouring will translate into more needed dollars.

Local News

Newburg Library to Open Tomorrow

newburglibrary1The newest branch of the Louisville Free Public Library opens officially tomorrow. The $1.9-million dollar facility in Newburg is being billed as the library system’s first technology-driven branch.

Library Director Craig Buthod says the branch has a number of environmentally-friendly features.

“All the way from the electric eye on this light fixture that helps us constantly adjust the light to the daylight outside to the all-natural materials in the flooring in front of you to the carpet made out of recycled water bottles to the high windows that allow daylight in without glare to the natural wood materials,” says Buthod.

newburglibrary3The library includes 32 brand-new touch-screen computers for public use. The original 32 computers purchased for the Newburg library were stored in the basement of the Main Branch when it flooded last week, and were destroyed.

The new computers were purchased with a 50-thousand dollar donation from the Newburg Friends of the Library.

Local News

Library Workers Continue Work to Dry Out Main Branch

The work to clear out 50,000 water-damaged books from the Main Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library continues this week.

Director Craig Buthod says library employees are working to keep track of each book that has to be thrown out.

“Part of the challenge here is the inventory,” says Buthod. “All of the books from the library are, of course, listed in the library’s computers and in the library’s catalog.  We need to make sure that every book that has to be discarded has to be removed from the inventory, so we have to read the bar code of every book before it goes.”

He says it’s a logistical challenge, because a lot of the ruined books were in various stages of processing when the flood occurred.

“We have to make sure that any books that are still charged out to one of our patrons get released from their record,” says Buthod, “so nobody gets charged overdue fines for something that happened after the flood here.”

Buthod says it will take weeks to sort through the books.

At least five-million dollars in damage was done to the Main Library. Some public areas of the library are expected to be re-opened by Labor Day, but full recovery isn’t expected until December.

Local News

Main Library Moving Offices to Heyburn Building

The Main Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library was among the hardest hit public structures in this week’s flood – but neighbors are pitching in to help get the library back on its feet.

Library Director Craig Buthod says the managers of the neighboring Heyburn Building have donated space for the library to house some of its offices during the recovery.

“It’s really generous of them,” says Buthod, “they’ve given us a full floor of offices and we’ll be able to move over there and stay close by, and they’re giving it to us for free, it’s a donation to the library, so we’re really grateful for that.”

Buthod says they’re working now to get the library-wide computer systems back, and hope to have that completed this weekend.

In the long term, Buthod says they hope to have some public parts of the library open by Labor Day, but full recovery isn’t expected until December. Damage to the building has been estimated at five-million dollars and about 50-thousand books were destroyed.

Local News

Library Reopening Delayed Until After Labor Day

Officials say the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library will be closed at least through Labor Day.

Tuesday’s floods left several feet of water in the library basement, damaging thousands of books, the building’s HVAC system, bookmobiles and office equipment.

The damage is now estimated at about $5 million.

 flood5(photo from

Local News

Main Library To Remain Closed Through Week's End

The main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library will remain closed through at least the end of the week.

The library sustained flood damage estimated at more than $1 million.             flood61

Floodwaters inundated the building’s basement Tuesday, damaging tens of thousands of books and the library’s HVAC system. New computers for the soon-to-be-opened Newburg branch were also stored in the basement.

Library director Craig Buthod said there’s a lot of cleanup work to be done.

“And then make sure we’re safe for public occupancy. We’ll have to get something in the way of a temporary chiller because we’re very worried about mold and mildew. In a library that can be devastating, Buthod said Tuesday.

Meanwhile officials at the Kentucky Derby Museum say it will be closed until further notice because of flood damage estimated in the millions of dolllars. Insurance adjusters visited the museum Wednesday.

Local News

Library Damage At Least $1 Million

The Louisville Free Public Library’s Main Branch is closed at least through Wednesday water swelled into the building’s lowest level during Tuesday’s storms. Library director Craig Buthod says that level houses a lot of books. flood32

“I’d have to say we probably lost books in the numbers of tens of thousands. There are three main book areas in that part of the library, including the transshipment area, where books come in from the branches and go out to other branches, the new books arriving, all of those are completely under water, and our Friends of the Library Sale sorting area.”

Officials say the floodwaters caused at least $1 million in damage to the library main branch. Buthod says a recovery fund has been established. Donations can be sent to:

The Library Foundation
301 York Street
Louisville, KY 40203

Buthod says their HVAC system and computer systems are also housed in the library’s basement and computers purchased for the

The Shawnee and Iroquois library branches were also closed Tuesday.

Local News

Torrential Rains Cause Widespread Flooding In Louisville

Cleanup and damage assessment continue across Louisville Metro where some six inches of rain fell in about one hour Tuesday morning and left much of the area swamped with floodwaters.

Governor Steve Beshear viewed some of the damage and said the state stands ready to help with any needed assistance.                              flood1

“I’m sure soon the mayor’s folks will be doing an initial assessment after we get over the emergency part of this situation and we’ll let that go from there. It will go through the normal process,” Beshear said.

Mayor Jerry Abramson says the storm also forced the evaucation of patients from Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital, where there was a natural gas leak.

Workers at the Louisville Metro Animal Services facility on Manslick Road were forced to remove animals from the building because of flood water.

Damage at the Louisville Free Public Library Main Branch (pictured above), where the basement was flooded, is estimated at more than $1 million.

The heavy rain left many rush-hour motorists stranded in high water.

No serious injuries have been reported.                 flood2