Indiana News

The Library in the Coal Mine?

Library group warns Hammond branch closings might not be state's last

10/3/2011

Next month's closing of two library branches in Hammond may not be the state's last.

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Libraries from Indianapolis to Elkhart have cut hours or staff to cope with budget deficits. Indiana Library Federation executive director Susan Akers blames the new property-tax caps -- she says some libraries have lost as much as 30-percent of their operating funds.

"Communities, I think, did not realize the effect it would have on libraries, schools, fire departments, road repair, parks, upkeep and so forth," Akers says. "People want these services, but they struggle with the question of how much do we want to pay."

Akers says the growing shift away from printed books to computers and e-books hasn't reduced library demand -- she says there are more patrons than ever, taking advantage of Internet access or checking out electronic media.

Hammond's library board voted last week to close its last two branch libraries November 1, leaving only the main library open. The board expects the closings to save half a million dollars.

The library still must find another 300-thousand dollars in savings.

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