Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Free Public Library officials welcomed the public today to the new $14.5 million South Central Regional Library located at 7300 Jefferson Boulevard near Jefferson Mall in Okolona.
The 40,000-square-foot facility, which replaces the much-smaller Okolona branch, enhances service for more than 160,000 people in south central Jefferson County, with new books and cutting-edge technology that encourages learning at all stages of life.
The library the second of three regional libraries included in the Louisville Free Public Library’s Updated Master Facilities Plan; the Southwest Regional Library opened in 2014, and construction on the third regional library in Northeast Jefferson County will begin this year.
“Lifelong learning is one of our core city values,” Mayor Greg Fischer said during today’s ribbon cutting. “And the gorgeous new South Central Regional Library is another example of how we’re bringing that value to life for the people of Louisville.”
The new eco-friendly library features more than 120,000 books and other materials – including more bestsellers, DVDs, large type, materials in multiple languages, books for youth, and graphic novels – as well as two large community meeting rooms; several smaller rooms for studying, reading, and collaborating; and dedicated spaces for teens and children. New technologies at South Central include plenty of computers and free internet access, plus, for the first time, a laptop kiosk for patrons to checkout laptops for use within the library.
“Our new South Central Regional Library provides the community with a world-class resource that will energize and expand opportunities for learning, growth, and engagement,” said Library Director Jim Blanton. “I challenge everyone in Louisville to take advantage of these new opportunities and seize them with excitement. I know I will.”
Overall, the South Central Regional Library project utilizes green building construction methods and materials and has been designed to save energy, improve quality of life, and reduce operating costs through such elements as geothermal heating and daylight harvesting interior lighting.
Walls of glass and clerestory windows fill the space with abundant natural light and offer incredible views of more than an acre of preserved woodland. The Library was committed to keeping as many trees as possible in order to preserve the beauty of the site and to minimize environmental impact, and while some of the hardwood trees had to be removed, many were milled and reused on the interior of the new library. The design team for the South Central Regional included JRA Architects of Louisville, Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd. of Minneapolis, and library staff, in consultation with neighborhood residents and leaders.
“District 24 is honored to have been chosen to host the Regional Library for this area of Metro Louisville,” said Councilwoman Madonna Flood. “For years we have dreamed of what the building would look like, what kind of technology would fill the space, and what kind of programs would be presented here. We can now see it, work in it and learn in it; our dreams have become reality. We are very excited for the Grand Opening of this grand Regional Library in Okolona.”
The South Central Regional also offers another LFPL first: the COLLIDER artist-in-residence program. The COLLIDER will host an array of artists and craftspeople from across the community – rotating monthly – including those working in visual arts, traditional crafts, music, dance, and digital art. Generous funding from Councilwoman Flood enabled the creation of the necessary space, artist equipment and materials, as well as a stipend for participating artists. The special studio space within the Library allows the artists to create on-site, while encouraging patrons to drop in, interact, and learn about a given artistic process. The program also features scheduled workshops for the public during each artist’s month in residence. To learn more about the COLLIDER’s artists-in-residence, visit LFPL.org/Collider.
Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch, whose District 13 is near the library said she was thrilled about its opening. “This location is about a mile from the border of District 13, so I anticipate great usage from my constituents in the Okolona, Hillview, and Yorktown areas,” she said. “The unique features such as lap top check out and artist in residence provided by Councilwoman Flood are expected to be a huge asset for our people!”
James Peden of District 23 agreed the new library is a tremendous asset to the community. “It will serve as the perfect place for checking out a book, holding meetings, and gaining knowledge,” he said. “We encourage everyone to stop by and check it out as soon as they can.”
Construction of the South Central Regional Library began in September 2015. The total cost for construction, books, computers, and furnishings was estimated at $14.5 million, with $6 million coming from the state, $6 million in capital funds allocated by Mayor Fischer and approved by the Metro Council, and an additional $2.5 million raised from private donors through the Library Foundation.
Mayor Fischer, Blanton, and Metro Council members were joined at today’s event by Congressman John Yarmuth, Library Foundation Vice Chair Bill Dunbar, and Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives representative Paige Davidson.
The opening weekend celebration continues on Saturday, July 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with artist-in-residence demonstrations, a family scavenger hunt, storytimes, and refreshments. For more information on the new South Central Regional Library, please visit LFPL.org/SouthCentral, or call (502) 964-3515.
The hours of operation are: Sunday: 1–5 p.m., Monday–Thursday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. The library hosts a variety of free programs, classes, and events every month for adults and youth including weekly storytimes, computer classes, and multi-cultural programs. Search the library’s online calendar at LFPL.org for upcoming program dates and times.
In addition, the South Central Regional’s meeting rooms are available for use by community groups and organizations; it’s free but reservations are required. For more information call (502) 964-3515 or visit LFPL.org/meeting-rooms.htm.