In Conversation

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The Louisville Free Public Library has been around for more than a century and has more than a dozen branch locations across Jefferson County. Library officials talked about the storied system and how the city’s budget will challenge it as part of WFPL’s In Conversation.

Our guests were: 

  • Louisville Free Public Library Director Lee Burchfield
  • Educational Justice Coordinator Katelyn Robalino
  • Library Foundation Executive Director Chandra Gordon

Louisville Free Public Library Director Lee Burchfield, who was appointed this April, said a lot of  people still use the libraries and don’t need a library card to access many of its services.

“There’s this perception that people don’t check out books from libraries anymore. In our experience, that’s really not true,” Burchfield said. “On the one hand, our library system is healthy and is doing great work in the community. On the other hand, we’ve got some challenges.”

Those challenges include less city funding, which Burchfield said would affect services they host and offer. Educational Justice Coordinator Katelyn Robalino said her organization will change course because of library cutbacks. Educational Justice is a non-profit that tutors disadvantaged students in order to close education gaps. 

The group tutors out of library branch locations, but Robalino said they may have to find alternative locations because of the library cutbacks.

“We are, kind of, moving away from being only exclusively at libraries and hosting tutoring there. Only because we are hesitant not knowing if they’re unsure of what their schedule will be or what resources they will have,” Robalino said. “We don’t want to rely on something that’s uncertain.”

Louisville Free Public Library Director Lee Burchfield (top center), Host Rick Howlett (bottom left), Educational Justice Coordinator Katelyn Robalino (bottom right), Library Foundation Executive Director Chandra Gordon (top right)Kyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Louisville Free Public Library Director Lee Burchfield (top center), Host Rick Howlett (bottom left), Educational Justice Coordinator Katelyn Robalino (bottom right), Library Foundation Executive Director Chandra Gordon (top right)

Buchfield said they are “considering all possibilities” for generating new revenue, and Library Foundation Executive Director Chandra Gordon said the public can help.

“The largest source of revenue for our librar[ies] are public dollars,” Gordon said. “Folks can get involved. They can have their voices heard and they can really make a  difference.”

Join us next week for In Conversation as we talk about the Trump administration’s immigration policy and how it may affect Louisville’s Hispanic community. 

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.