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Hundreds protest library closures - Philadelphia News

November 22, 2008 5:04:48 PM PST
Across Philadelphia this Saturday hundreds turned out to protest Mayor Nutter's planned closing of 11 library branches. Residents say they are much more than places to check out books and they're calling the mayor to task. Residents across the city, braved the bitterly cold temperatures to proclaim to Mayor Michael Nutter that his plan to shut 11 of the city's libraries is a bad idea.

From Point Breeze to Ogontz to West Philadelphia residents were taking the mayor to task for his plan to shut down libraries to help address a one billion dollar budget shortfall over the next 5 years:

"When Mayor Nutter came in he talked about two things being at the top of his agenda. Number one was reducing crime and number two was the high school drop out crisis and the notion of closing the libraries is the antithesis of exactly those two things," Damon Roberts of Point Breeze said.

It's not that these people do not understand the city is in a financial crisis, and that the Mayor is in between a rock and a hard place, but people think there has to be other solutions than closing down some of the city's libraries.

"Our suggestion is rather than putting money into those who go to the state pen, we should be investing on the front end so that our kids can go to Penn State," Will Mega of West Philadelphia said.

Members of Friends of the Free Library say the solution is to spread the pain across the board to prevent any library from being shut down.

"We are asking for shared sacrifice, three days a week services across the entire system to keep it open, all libraries open, until we're out of this budget crunch," Amy Dougherty, director of Friends of the Free Library, said.

However, the mayor seems entrenched in his position.

"The closures will take place and at the same time, we're in a much more serious discussion and dialogue on how to better utilize nearby facilities, enhance library facilities at schools and recreation centers," Mayor Nutter said.

Still, the mayor may have a real battle on his hands because residents seem very passionate about saving their libraries.

"We're going to fight for this library, if it takes us a lifetime," Francina Collins of West Philadelphia said.

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