August 09, 2016

Aurora community speaks out to save library services

More than 100 community members filled the West Branch of the Aurora Public Library on August 8 to protest the Library Board's planned cuts to staff and services. The library’s parking lot was completely filled with cars. Many people in the standing room only crowd wore stickers demanding "No cuts!"

John Savage, president of the Library Board, stressed the importance of "focus[ing] on a balanced budget" during his presentation. Following Savage, Alderman Carl Franco urged the library board to consider increasing the library tax levy to prevent the cuts. Ald. Franco said that his office had been flooded with calls and emails from concerned citizens who want to preserve the library services. He said if the Library Board would recommend a tax levy, the Aurora City Council would be happy to consider passing it.

Numerous community members spoke out, many of them expressing anger about the disproportionate cuts to the West Branch and the closing of the Church Road Express Center. One mother who depends on the Express Center started crying while talking about how much her children and her community need the Church Road branch:

“I’ve been hearing now that you guys are ripping apart our library and I said, ‘What, what are we going to be doing?’ Because a lot of people, a lot of seniors, they don’t have a way to go to the big library. They go by walking to the express center. My kids go by walking to the express center…

“I don’t understand what happened. They gave us something very good for the community and now they want to take it from us … People in my area, they don’t have wifi. That hotspot, we can borrow from the library and it is good when my kids need to do homework. They need a hotspot and they can go to the library.”

The large crowd clapped and cheered her testimony.

Savage shut down the meeting at 8:30 p.m. despite the fact that there were still many community members with additional questions and objections. When asked if the board would recommend an increase in the library tax levy to the City Council, Savage said he would discuss the possibility of raising the library tax levy with the board, but cautioned that it would not be in time to stop the cuts.

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