The Louisville Free Public Library system is a point of extreme shame for the city of Louisville. It is underfunded, doesn't have enough books, the buildings themselves are old and in need of renovations, and it offers few of the progrs that many other cities of similar size are able to offer. To put it bluntly: it sucks.
Luckily there is a plan that is being pushed by the mayor that would essentially remedy many of these problems in a few short years - but sadly, it needs a new tax to do it. (And we all know how well people love to vote YES on a new tax!)
Under a current proposal from Mayor Abramson, the county would establish a library tax district - which is already allowed by Kentucky law, and is used successfully is a very large portion of the state's counties - to raise the money needed to build three new "super regional" libraries in the suburbs (On Dixie Highway, Outer Loop Road, and Hurstborne Parkway), and a major overhaul of the downtown main branch. Other smaller branches would be remodeled and upgraded; books would be added, programs would be expanded, and staff would be better paid.
The tax increase would amount to two tenths of one percent and would be collected via the occupational tax. It would amount to about 80 dollars a year for a person earning 40,000 dollars. The tax will bring in nearly 35 million dollars for the county and will free up the current amount of 16 million that the city spends annually on the library system for other uses.
Similar laws failed in the mid-80's and early-90's, so don't expect a smooth passage. It will be a difficult campaign. However, the plan had the backing of all 24 council members in 2004, and the community is markedly different than it was 20 years ago - we witnessed that when merger passed a few years ago after decades of trying.
An excellent library system that is accessible to all citizens is a hallmark of a lively and well-educated community. Louisville needs to strive to reach that goal.