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How The Sprague Library Branch Is Recovering From $1.5 Million Flood Damage

Nicole Nixon

It’s been nearly a month since heavy rainfall flooded homes, damaged schools, and prompted the Sprague Library branch to close.

Andrew Shaw with the City Library system says there was five feet of water in the basement of the branch, which housed the nonfiction section, staff workspaces and the public meeting room.

The children’s library was also located in the basement. With shelves short enough for kids to reach the books, Shaw says the entire collection was underwater and a complete loss.

The city’s library system estimates total damages from the flooding around $1.5 million, but amount is much lower than it could have been. Shaw says since the water was pumped out immediately, the branch was able to avoid mold damage.  

While the Sprague Branch is closed for at least another month, its staff members are being put to good use in other branches.

“People have been concerned about the staff, asking, ‘did people lose their jobs over this?’ and the answer is no, not at all,” he said, adding that the bulk of the staff was sent to the Foothill branch, which is now open on Sundays.

The meeting room in the back of the library's basement had more than five feet of water in it on the morning of July 26.

While the basement needs to undergo massive renovations after the flooding, Shaw expects the upper level of the Sprague Branch will reopen for public use by October.   

Since the July 26 flooding, dozens of Sugar House residents have come forward to offer help and donations. Many have lamented the closure of the library and loss of a well-used community gathering space.

The library system is hosting a rally outside the Sprague Branch Thursday evening.

“We’ll have some food, kind of a little backyard BBQ feel,” Shaw says.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski and people from the library will speak. There will also be family activities and local musicians.

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