Friday, July 30, 2010

Fountain Square Library Threatened With Closing

In April, the Board of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library announced a plan to close the Fountain Square branch as part of a cost cutting effort. This plan involved closing the Martindale Brightwood and Glendale branches in December of 2010 followed by the Flanner House, West Indianapolis, Spades Park and Fountain Square branches in December of 2011.

In response, many Southeast neighborhood leaders began to meet locally and with leaders from other neighborhoods to challenge these closings. They began to plan strategy designed to highlight how crucial each of these branches are to the city neighborhoods in which they sit. These efforts led to a campaign to Save Our Libraries. This group established various facebook pages, a website at, a letter writing effort, and other activities.

On Saturday, May 8th, volunteers stood at the doors of many of the township libraries passing out flyers to encourage those patrons to see the closing of these branches as a city wide concern. One of the inequities of the Board proposal to close six branches was the perception the Library was balancing its budget on the backs of the poorest residents of our city.

On Monday, May 10th, fifty Fountain Square residents attended the public hearing at the IMCPL service center. Though many of them were unable to get inside the building, the presence of over 300 people for this hearing demonstrated the deep passion of many about the closings. On Tuesday, May 11th, Mayor Ballard pledged to find a “short term solution” to the Library crisis, but gave no details on how this solution would be funded.

On Wednesday, June 9th, many neighborhood residents brought lawn chairs and books and filled the sidewalks of Fountain Square in a demonstration of how important our branch is to our neighborhood. These residents were excited to hear that the Library Board was postponing their final decision on the closings until their July 8th meeting.

Much of the solution to this crisis involves finding a more sustainable and reliable source of long range funding for our library system. John Day, State Representative, has promised to propose legislation that would allow Marion County to utilize County Income Tax to help fund our libraries, something only Marion County isn’t allowed to do. In addition, many are suggesting that the property tax cap advocates have created this crisis. Regardless, what seems clear to many is that a world class city doesn’t close libraries.

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