LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The cash-strapped Middletown library branch is beginning a new chapter with a new location and a free lease.

The city of Middletown will give its old city hall building to the library for free, while Louisville Metro government covers the cost of operation. 

"We own the building," Middletown Mayor Byron Chapman said. "We, the city of Middletown. So it will be a library permanently. They won't have to worry about finding a new place in a few years. It's permanent."

The library is currently housed in the Jefferson County East Government Center at 200 Juneau Drive, but Louisville Metro Council budget cuts closed it in June 2019.

"It was the second-busiest satellite library in the city when they closed it, so it had a negative impact," library patron Gwen Eaton said. "I came and signed a petition."

The community pushed back, prompting a temporary reopening in the building, with the caveat that Metro Government and the city of Middletown would work together to find a cheaper space. The new spot is at the former site of Lisa Lynn Designs off Shelbyville Road, about a block away from the government building. The interior design company moved to a home office location and can be reached by appointment at 502-384-5966.

Chapman, who was proud to give a tour of the new location Thursday, said it's a bit of a homecoming for the library.

"Years ago — probably 15 years ago — the space we're standing in this half of the building was actually the library at that point," he said.

As the story goes, Middletown once split this property with Metro government. Half was City Hall and half was the library. Louisville Metro Council has set aside $500,000 to renovate the building back to being a library. The current library in the Jefferson County East Government Center is set to close Nov. 30. 

Chapman said renovation may take several months, but he hopes the new library will open in mid-2021.

The fact that it will have a new home is a storybook ending for people like Eaton.

"It's fantastic, fantastic news," she said. "I was very much opposed to it closing."

Rent on the building ran about $3,500 a month, meaning the free lease amounts to about a $42,000 discount for Metro Louisville.

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