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Sugar House Journal

Heavy rains damage Sprague Library

Aug 31, 2017 16h44 ● By Jana Klopsch

Crews and library workers discovered 5.5 feet of water that morning in the library’s basement. (Andrew Shaw/Salt Lake Public Library spokesperson)

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

In late July, the Salt Lake Valley received heavy rain in a matter of minutes. Streets were closed and school buildings, including Highland High and East High, had interior flood damage. The National Weather Service reported that the Sugar House area received 2.12 inches the morning of July 26. The Sprague Library wasn’t spared either with extensive basement flooding. 

“The city library’s Sprague Branch is seen as Sugar House’s neighborhood living room,” Peter Bromberg, the executive director of the Salt Lake City Public Library said. “The losses in this flood aren’t just books and computers, which can and will be replaced, but also the temporary loss of a key gathering place for the people of Salt Lake City.” 

Children’s books, stuffed animals and papers were heavily damaged from the water. When crews arrived, they discovered 5.5 feet of standing water in the basement and nearly everything had been damaged. 

“In some localized areas, with that much sudden rain, our system was simply overwhelmed,” Laura Breifer, the director of the Department of Public Utilities said about the citywide flooding. “Our team is fully dedicated to addressing the damage from this storm and will be on the scene for as long as necessary to provide clean up and support in the city.”

“The rain and debris overwhelmed storm drains, and water rushed into the stairwell up from the Sprague Branch’s meeting room,” Andrew Shaw, Salt Lake Library spokesman said. “The water broke windows in the area and came into the building that way.” 

 The library is expected to be closed for several months while the basement is cleaned. The nearest library to Sugar House is the Anderson-Foothill Branch at 1135 S. 2100 East. The staff at the Sprague Library will also be spread around the Salt Lake Library system so they can continue to do their jobs. 

According to Shaw, many members of the community have asked how they can help the library. Many have offered their time, money, talents and labor to help repair the building. 

“We are so grateful for the overwhelming show of support for the Sprague Branch,” Shaw said. “It’s clearly a beloved and integral part of the Sugar House community.” 

For those who want to help through monetary donations, Shaw suggests supporting the Friends of The City Library, a partner organization that is helping address the unexpected costs. You can donate on their website at He also added that they are asking for photos, memories and stories of the Sprague Branch on social media with using the hashtag #MySprague.

“Although the loss of books, computers and other materials is a difficult one to bear, I think the biggest lost is the temporary closure of a beloved community gathering place,” Shaw said. “The Sprague Branch has served Sugar House since 1928, and for generations, people have used the Sprague Branch as a place to come together as a neighborhood, to celebrate the community’s successes and to talk through the community’s issues.”