Libraries at Bases Turn Page Navy Effort Pays off in Volumes for Readers
Strickland, Sandy, The Florida Times Union
In an era of military downsizing, several cash-strapped Navy bases have found creative ways of keeping their libraries open.
Last year, the Navy closed at least 10 libraries across the nation, including the one at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
Congress has since placed a moratorium on closure of other military libraries unless the base is shut down.
In lieu of closing its doors, officials at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, Ga., converted its library into an academic satellite of Valdosta State University.
Mayport Naval Station, meanwhile, has opted to "bring its library into the 21st century" by upgrading its technology, said Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Merrill, a base spokeswoman.
Cecil Field closed its library last year, not for budget reasons, but as part of the planned closure of the base.
And though Jacksonville Naval Air Station closed its traditional library, it opened two computer rooms last year with 24 terminals for Internet research.
The old library wasn't used much and was in a building that needed rehabilitating, said spokesman Pat Dooling.
"So, when the order came to close the library, we were in a situation to do so quickly before Congress came out and said you really need to keep them open," he said.
At Kings Bay, on the other hand, sailors enrolled in college classes on base were dismayed when officials talked about closing the library.
With the welcome sign still out, there are usually several lined up waiting for the library to open in the afternoons, said center manager Carolyn McPherson. The library's new hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 6 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The library is operated under contract with Valdosta State University, which has an enrollment of more than 400 students on base and provides staffing. …