GARY, Ind. (CBS/WBBM) — Readers in Gary, Ind., are losing their main library and a branch to cost-cutting.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the Gary Library Board faces a whopping 60 percent drop in revenue, with its annual budget going from $6.5 million to just $2.5 million.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports
Board members had the choice of maintaining the main library at a cost of $2 million each year to operate, or closing each of the five branches, which cost between $200,000 to $500,000.
The board voted 4-3 to close the main library and one branch – the Tolleston branch – at the end of this year.
Board president Tony Walker said the decision is not popular, but he said there were no good options. A total of 30 library workers stand to lose their jobs.
Walker said the timing of the decision gives employees several months to look for a new job, and the board will have to negotiate with the union about who will be affected by the closures. He said some planned retirements may lessen the number of people who will be laid off.
The main library opened in 1964, near the height of the city’s population boom. It was constructed of Indiana limestone at a cost of $2.2 million, and it was the latest in library design, according to the library’s website. Its most outstanding feature was its space — it included an auditorium, conference rooms, two floors for shelving, and a full basement.
The main and Tolleston branch library collections will be divided up among the remaining branches, and the board is also in discussions with the Gary Community School Corp. and the Boys & Girls Clubs about providing a satellite facility.
The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire