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How You Can Help the Louisville Free Public Library Recover from Disaster

August 5, 2009

I don’t usually blog about libraries here, but the Louisville Free Public Library needs our help – Louisville, KY received about 6″ of rain in 3 hours this week, creating a flash flood situation that filled their Main Library with sewage-contaminated water. Early estimates are that damages are in the $1 million range for the main branch, with approximately 10,000 items (books, audiobooks, and the like) lost. The servers flooded; the bookmobiles flooded; the processing room where the new materials live flooded; 40 new computers for a branch library are gone, as are countless other items. In a time when libraries all over the country are cutting staff, salaries, hours, and purchases because of the economy, I imagine that recovery at LFPL is going to be a long and painful process.

One more image for you on TwitpicTo understand the extent of the damage, you really need to see the photos. The one to the left (click to embiggen for full effect) made me tear up a little yesterday. Here you can see one library staffer’s office – that’s the doorknob just above the water line. This one shocked even the non-librarian spouse. This one, from this morning, reminds us that even when the water starts to subside, there is a whole lot of damage to deal with and materials that are simply unsalvageable.

In the face of all of this bad news for LFPL, the good news is that there are ways for us to help.

Send a donation to the recovery fund:
A disaster recovery fund has been established; donations (by check) can be mailed to:
The Library Foundation
301 York Street
Louisville, KY 40203

You should probably mark it for flood recovery in the memo line, but that’s the nitpicky librarian in me. My own donation is likely to be relatively small of necessity, which is to say – every little bit helps.

For the Librarians:
If you’re a Library Society of the World person, Steve Lawson is coordinating an LSW fundraising drive for the library, with a goal of raising $5,000 by September 1. For full disclosure, I’ll be mailing my check directly to the Foundation, but I do think Steve is pretty trustworthy on this one – he has a good reputation in libraryland, and you can bet he knows full well that his fellow LSWers will show up with internet pitchforks if anything goes wrong.

Don’t send books:
I know that a common first impulse upon seeing the “library in trouble” batsignal go up is, “Hey, I’ll donate some new or used books to them.” Please ignore that impulse for the time being. I’ve been following this disaster primarily through LFPL librarian Greg Schwartz’s tweets, and Greg says: “Our book processing dept is underwater, so you may want to hold off on book donations for now.” Right now, there is a lot of work to be done getting sewage-contaminated water out of the building, and there is nowhere for them to store or process book donations. While LFPL does have an Amazon wishlist, please ignore it until you hear otherwise.

LFPL, we’re thinking of you out here. Be safe.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2009 8:59 am

    Thanks for the mention, Rachel, and for vouching for me. Since I can’t think of a good way to prove that I’m not pocketing the money, I don’t expect many people who don’t know me already will want to send money to me. I hope they send a check right to the Foundation, as you are doing.

  2. August 6, 2009 4:15 pm

    Mary Hunt, with the Foundation, states that donations should be marked: Flood. Here is the Library Journal link to their article:

  3. August 19, 2009 11:53 am

    One thing that libraries in LA learned from Katrina is that getting the money is much more important than the books. You can buy the books you need, you don’t get the books you want or need.

    • August 19, 2009 5:43 pm

      Thanks for sharing your insight, Michael. I must admit that the LFPL situation has made me sorry I wasn’t in a better position to send money to LA libraries directly after Katrina, or wasn’t more thoughtful or active at that time in encouraging others to do the same.


  1. lis.dom » i sent my raise to the louisville library
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