Library Books

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Middletown and Fern Creek Library branches are the latest casualties of the city's ongoing budget cuts.

Both branches are scheduled to close this Saturday, news that came as a surprise and disappointment to a lot of people.

"I am old-fashioned enough to still enjoy having a book in my hand," said Jerry Clark, who lives in Anchorage.

Clark is a regular at the Middletown Branch and president of The Friends of the Library. Although he enjoys checking out books, Clark said the Middletown Branch provides much more than something to read.

"Just disappointed that we are losing the services for this area of town," he said. "Especially a branch like this, it's almost like a community center, a safe place for our young people. [They have a] great summer reading program. We had over 70 adult groups this year that had some sort of function here."

Metro Councilman Markus Winkler said he was meeting with constituents and working on some alternatives to closing the branches.

"It's a huge loss to this community," Winkler said. "We knew it was going to close, going all the way back to when the mayor put out his proposed budget cuts.

"I came to a community meeting here last Saturday. We had over 70 residents here. We talked through what we could try to do to keep the facility open. I committed to them that I would work with the administration through this budget process to try to find money to at least keep it open a few days a week."

That proposal was never heard.

"Fast forward two days later to find out the decision was made that it's going to close this week is extremely frustrating," Winkler said.

On Wednesday, the library director of the Louisville Free Public Library, Lee Burchfield, shared the reduction plan with Metro Council's budget Committee. Burchfield was grilled fore more than two hours. Council members wanted to know why the decision was made before the budget was finalized.

"Did you or the administration not think that it might be a good idea to consult with the elected officials that represent the citizens who utilize these libraries and say, 'Hey, this is what we're going to do. This is what's happening,'" Councilman Anthony Piagentinie asked.

"I can't speak to anyone else," Burchfield replied. "I was in constant communications with all of the people that I work with on a regular basis, whether it's the mayor's office, the friends of the library, the library foundation, the library advisory commission. We were working with our administration and the library's administration and our management team to make all of these decisions."

Burchfield also told council members that more branches will be close in the future.

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