Shawnee Library

Visitors filled Shawnee Library on a Friday afternoon. (WDRB Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Vicki Hamblin visited a place Friday afternoon that sparks memories: the Shively Library.

She's brought her children and grandchildren there to read over the years, but that could end pending the changes that are coming to the Louisville Free Public Library system.

Because of budget cuts caused by a pension crisis, both the Middletown and Fern Creek locations are slated to close. However, Hamblin knows the impact will be much greater than that. Cuts will be felt at every library.

"This is going to be a big shock," she said.

Pam Greenwell, president of the Friends of the Louisville Free Public Library gave a forecast of what's to come:

"Everybody that I know recognizes that this is a freight train," she said. "Most of the part-time people will be laid off."

Greenwell said the lay-offs will correspond with a move to slash hours at most branches.

"No library but [Main, Southwest, South Center and Northeast] is going to be open more than 40 hours a week," she said. "What that translates into is lost evenings, lost Saturdays."

Mayor Greg Fischer's budget request spells out that impact in black and white:

"We are so concerned about the people that use the library," Greenwell said. "How do we take that away? How do we say, 'Go get a job. I hope it works out for you. But, by the way, we don't have that much WiFi, and the library's only open 40 hours, and if, you know, if you can only be there on a Thursday afternoon, sorry, we're not open on Thursday afternoons.' How do we do that?"

Donna Smith, a frequent visitor of the popular Shively branch, is also concerned by the likely decrease in library hours. While the reduction would inconvenience her, she's more worried about the impact on young people who use the library branches.

"This is a safe environment for the kids," she said. "And when I hear about the swimming pools in this area may be closing, the library's going to be their safe-haven for the summer. "The library is a very, very, very needed resource."

Derrick Wright, a well-spoken 15-year-old who visits the Shively branch often, falls in that category Smith describes.

"A lot of kids out here are in gangs, and you know, getting killed in gangs," he said.

Wright, however, spends much of his free time at the library.

"We need this," he said. "Louisville needs the libraries, because it's kind of like everyone wants to sit down, chill and relax."

The 15-year-old had a message to Metro Council:

"I just pray for y'all," he said. "I hope the government can do what it can to scramble up any money so you can keep the libraries, and everything will be back where it was before."

None of the changes are set in stone until Metro Council decides how much money to give the library system. They have until the end of June to pass a budget.

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