City Spending $1.3 Million to Protect Library from Flooding

A News Release from Metro Government details work being done as a result of the 2009 Flooding that caused extensive damage to the downtown library.

 Main Library Grounds To Get Makeover As Flood Prevention Program Progresses

 $1.3 Million Storm and Sanitary Flood Mitigation Project Designed to Prevent Damage like that of the 2009 Flood

Louisville, Kentucky – May 21, 2012 —– On August 4, 2009, the Main Library at 301 York Street suffered more than $7.8 million in damage from freak flash flooding that occurred as a result of a torrential rainfall.  More than six feet of water poured into the lower level and destroyed the library’s operations center. The rain wasn’t the only culprit, however, as thousands of gallons of water overwhelmed the area’s combined storm and sewer lines creating a back-up that wreaked havoc throughout the 103 year-old facility.

Louisville’s Main Library was built in 1908

As recovery, repair and renovation efforts progressed in the historic Carnegie-style library’s interior, library staff partnered with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) to analyze the back flow problems and determine the best solutions for reducing the possibilities of another occurrence.

Since early April, crews have been moving forward with a plan to separate and reroute sanitary and storm sewer pipes as well as create a new drainage network of pump stations, valves and groundwater vaults designed to manage water flow before it drains into the library’s main sewer line on Third Street. The Library Storm and Sanitary Flood Mitigation Project is aligned with MSD’s ongoing efforts to separate sanitary and storm sewer systems throughout Louisville, as part of its Consent Decree with the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate combined sewer overflows.

Along with the underground sewer work, the $1.3 million project includes ground-level improvements that will help eliminate or reduce the chances for future flooding as well as make the areas more accessible and inviting to visitors to the library. Berms will be installed, on both the east and west sides of the library to help prevent floodwaters from flowing into the basement.  The east side berm features an elevated walkway and steps. The positioning of the west side berm will elevate the delivery driveway which will also help to reduce drainage.  The existing concrete plaza and fountain on the west side of the library will be removed and the area landscaped to promote infiltration of storm water into the ground and to create a park-like setting.

“We want to take every precaution we can to protect one of this community’s grandest historic landmarks,” said Library Director Craig Buthod, “while at the same time making our grounds more beautiful and comfortable for all of our patrons. Our grounds are an extension of our front door and we think these new improvements will make our flagship library even more welcoming.”

Costs for the project are being shared by the library and MSD. The library’s portion of the funding has been developed through approved historic preservation tax credits, donations to the Library Foundation and proceeds from the city’s flood insurance settlement.

The project is scheduled for completion by late fall, 2012.


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 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm.

Louisville Free Public Library connects the residents of Louisville and Jefferson County to knowledge and information at our 18 locations and on the Web at Come on in, the whole world’s inside. For more information about the Louisville Free Public Library, go to or call 502-574-1611.