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Budget cuts may shutter six Jacksonville library branches

6:41 PM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Library board of trustees operates the public library system. Mayor Alvin Brown asked all city agencies to cut their budgets. The board was asked to cut approximately $2.4 million.

"We need all of libraries," said Sheryl Williams. Williams, a regular user of the San Marco branch, is disappointed.

"When you cut back on library service you make us a second or third tier city," she said.

To cut $2.4 million the library board approved a plan to close six branches; Maxville, Brentwood, San Marco, Willowbranch, University and Beaches. 

"I use the computers at the library," said Williams, "I use the San Marco branch."

Williams is poised to fight to save not just the branch she visits, but all six branches that face closure.

"The citizens deserve better than that," she said.

Attorney Bill Brinton agrees. Brinton is the voice and face of a petition drive to save Jacksonville's library system; his father was a librarian.

"Today we have few library services on weekends," said Brinton, "and a lot of people don't know that." 

The petition drive started last September to get a straw ballot to voters.

"This is an historic straw ballot initiative and it is probably the most important thing we can put on the ballot," he said, "for education and literacy."

Brinton and supporters on Friday delivered more petitions to the Duval County Supervisors of Elections office. 

"This will take us over ten thousand," said Brinton.

The goal is to get 25,931 signatures before the next general election. Brinton said the straw ballot is necessary, even if the six libraries on the chopping block are spared.

"We can't further degrade the system," said Brinton, "We are not being smart."

The ballot is asking voters if they want to establish an "independent library taxing district with no increase in the total mileage cap."

"We see people turned away everyday from libraries in the county because they are closed," said Brinton, "People pull the doors and they're closed."

"We do not have a good library system anymore in Duval county," said Brinton. 

First Coast News

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