Committee votes to close 2 libraries

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council's budget finance committee voted Wednesday to restore four libraries and close two.

The Beaches, Willow Branch, University Park and San Marco libraries were spared. The Maxville and Brentwood libraries, two of 21 in Duval County, are on the chopping block.

The cuts are part of the city's effort to cut $38 million from its budget.

The news isn't sitting well with some locals.

"If you do not feel like a library is important, then you need to go back in history and read about what libraries have done for people," ninth-grader Matthew Williams said.

Williams and his brother use the Brentwood Library every day. In fact, they credit the library with expanding their knowledge base.

"I've learned new words, I've learned how different things work, I've learned if you work hard enough, you have to achieve it," Williams said.

The Brentwood Library was busy Wednesday afternoon, with dozens utilizing the public resources. But members of the budget finance committee say they had to make a tough decision.

"The finance committee's verbiage is efficiency," said Brenda Hutchings, of the public library committee. "The city has to move in that level of efficiency and to assist in that the city has to close those libraries."

A lot of people who use the Brentwood Library live within walking distance, and now that they've learned it's going to close, they don't know what they are going to do.

"If they have to go to the Main Library, they'll have to catch a bus, and I can't afford that," said Mary Williams, Matthew's mother.

Members of the budget finance committee say closing the two libraries is only a portion of sacrifices the city is being forced to make.

"It is the most astonishing, painful, heartfelt thing that I, and along with others in the community, can feel," said Lydia Jackson-Bell. "This library is so well-used."

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