Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hard Choices Coming for Popular Places

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hard Choices Coming for Popular Places

Article excerpt

All the studying and all the preparation from The Jacksonville Library board is about to come to a head.

A consultant produced a thick strategic plan for the board, in part to help set priorities as funds are cut, in part to spend taxpayer money wisely.

Board meetings at the Main Library are minimally attended by observers, typically a few loyal souls.

But if the new mayoral administration goes through with a 15 percent cut in the library's budget, the impact will be serious and noticeable.

For instance:

- The Maxville branch would be closed and mothballed. This is the one with the least activity. Instead, the nearby Maxville Community Center could provide some library services.

- There will be less service available after 103 staff positions are cut.

- Hours at all locations will be cut by 30 percent, with all branches closed on Sundays and Mondays.

- There will be fewer materials available with $879,500 cut from the materials budget, a 24 percent reduction.


The board also is considering a facilities plan that would change the role of certain branches. A meeting is scheduled today at 9 a.m. at the Main Library.

- For instance, there is a proposal to convert the Willowbranch library in Riverside/Avondale into the genealogical center. The reasoning is that it is just a few miles from the Murray Hill library. But Willowbranch has a long history and serves an engaged group of residents. Like closing a local school, it would be traumatic to lose the neighborhood's library. Is it the only alternative? Much more study is needed.

- Another neighborhood library, Brentwood, would be closed. It is a former movie theater and requires too much money for maintenance.

Maintenance of a system this big is a major issue. Should money be spent on older facilities? The library system's consultants estimated that the system needs $12 million in repairs with roofs at the top of the list. …

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