Turning the Page: St. Matthews Eline Library
Recently Renovated St. Matthews Eline Library Offers Diverse Amenities and Services
The St. Matthews Eline Library has been a community mainstay for more than sixty years, and is greatly appreciated by the residents and patrons who use its services. The library recently underwent extensive refurbishment and expansion, and was closed for nearly nine months during the process. The sleek, updated facility reopened on May 9, 2019, to the delight of St. Matthews residents.
The library was originally located above a bank building on Shelbyville Road. It was then moved to a house on Brown Avenue, and in 1958 made another move to Church Way. Land belonging to the Eline family, which sat behind the St. Matthews Methodist Church, was donated for the library in memory of Sidney Eline, Jr., who was killed in World War II. The library quickly became a focal point for the neighborhood.
In 1993 the city acquired a three-story building on Grandview Avenue that had once been Greathouse Elementary School and, subsequently, Futural Federal Savings and Loan. City leaders in St. Matthews began a million-dollar remodeling project on the structure, resulting in a unified city hall that housed the clerk’s office, police department, Beargrass-St. Matthews Historical Society, and library. Due to the generosity of former Mayor Art Draut and the city council, the library was relocated to a new space on April 11, 1994.
Twenty-five years later, the library’s updates are welcome additions, bringing the structure into the 21st century. The library now spans 19,000 square feet and holds 70,000 books, all on one level. This allows for easy access for all members of the community. St. Matthews Mayor Rick Tonini and the St. Matthews City Council spearheaded the renovation of the St. Matthews Eline Library, as part of a comprehensive $10 million project to remodel the city hall and police headquarters. The Louisville Metro Government contributed $1 million towards the library portion of the project.
Although it was difficult for patrons during the closure, Assistant Branch Manager Micah Followay says the community is happy with the changes.
“The response has been amazing,” he says. “Everybody’s very pleased with how it looks. We’ve nearly doubled in size. Every part of the library has its own little aspect, which makes it a unique experience for our patrons.”
The exterior has clean, modern lines, while the interior is filled with bright overhead lights, comfortable seating areas and huge picture windows that allow for natural light to shine through.
In the adult wing of the library, visitors will find semi-enclosed seating areas with small tables and chairs, allowing patrons to study or interact quietly. These areas are situated near picture windows that look onto the green space and neighborhood surrounding the library. The tables are equipped with electrical outlets and USB charging docks. Against another bank of windows, comfortable chairs are available for reading a favorite book or magazine. The adult section also houses the general computer area, which is open to the public, and where computer classes in Microsoft Word and Excel are taught.
The library now has two meeting spaces. The small room holds up to eight people, and is equipped with both HDMI capability and a big-screen television. The large room holds up to 100 people, and is equipped with a surround-sound audio system, projection capabilities, a DVD player, a PA system, and a sound system for patrons who wear telecoil hearing aids.
The children’s room is a destination for younger readers and their parents or caregivers. Hundreds of colorful picture books are displayed on shelves and on top of book cases, offering easy access. A new story-time area with tiered seating provides a space for the library’s weekly programs.
“We have story time every Wednesday and Thursday,” Followay says. “One is for toddlers and preschool-age children, and the other is a baby family dance party. We probably have a hundred people show up for these programs.”
Followay is pleased that the library features a new section where teens can sit and relax.
“The old structure just had [patrons] sitting next to the circulation desk, and it really didn’t have a very personal feeling to it,” he says. “Now we have two study tables where they can do work or read, plus these cubicles have panels that can be changed to any color, giving each study block its own personality.”
Many services are available at the St. Matthews Eline Library and throughout the Louisville Free Public Library system. Patrons can now check out laptop computers to use at the library, with just a swipe of a library card. The library also offers e-book material.
“We have apps where people can download books, magazines, audio books and music from the comfort of their own home,” Followay says. “They just need to have a library card, and be in good standing when it comes to paying their fines. We see an influx of people coming in who have an e-reader, Kindle or iPad, who want to get the app to download the materials. Our staff will help them access those features.”
The library also offers a service that brings books to homebound senior citizens and those who aren’t able to visit the library.
“For adults, we have our book discussion group and a film discussion group,” Followay says. “The adult and kids staff work with other organizations to bring in speakers. We had someone in from Bowman Field doing a presentation about the history of the airport and their aviation school. We also had a program called ‘Louisville Then and Now’, discussing the city’s history, which brought in fifty-one people.”
The St. Matthews Eline Library is located at 3940 Grandview Avenue in Louisville. For more information, call 502-574-1771 and visit lfpl.org/branches/stmatthews.htm.