20 September 2010

An Open Letter to the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

Dear Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Directors and Board Members,

I am disappointed to learn of the new reduced hours schedule that is to take effect in October, particularly the closing of Central Library on all Thursday.

I am fully cognizant of the budget situation in the city and state that has led to this decision. I applaud you looking for solutions other than the outright closing of library branches, but closing the main branch of the library during the work week makes little sense.

I work downtown and often walk over to library over my lunch break. I enjoy being able to visit one of the community's best resources any day I am able to. I often go to the library specifically on Thursdays to check out new material to enjoy over the weekend. I also understand that Central Library is central to the system -- shutting down the city's biggest library for an entire day of the week leaves the community at a great disadvantage. Central provides support for the other branches of the library system. Central has a large number of computers that are vital for job searches, training and more for people to return to the job market in this tough economy.

Closing Central on Thursdays leaves a gaping hole in the services this community needs.

I do not feel it is fair to complain without offering an alternate solution, and one that I have seen work well in another community where I lived. There, in the summer, hours at the library were cut on weekends. The library had Sunday hours during the school year, but none in the summer. Additionally, during the school year, Saturday hours were longer, but were reduced in the summer.

Let me offer a second solution, as well. As I have mentioned, I am regular library patron. If I had been asked to donate as a way to keep library services open for all throughout the whole week, I would have paid attention to the case made. I believe in libraries and have fond memories of many libraries in the communities I have lived. As a single individual, no gift I could make would keep the library open Thursdays. However, I suspect many library patrons like me would step up if we had simply been asked.

I hope you will reconsider the hours reduction. Or, at the very least, pledge to restore hours to what they were when revenues rebound.

The Central Library is too great a resource and too valuable of a community asset to let sit dark for a whole day during the week.

Bethany K. Warner

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