LA CROSSE, WI - La Crosse residents raised their voices together Thursday night against a proposal to close their south side library branch.
Some neighbors headed to a public hearing at the main library branch to voice their opposition to the Library Board, who voted last month to recommend closing the branch in the face of budget issues.
Others showed their support at a rally at the south side location.
"This has been an incredibly important library for us," said Deborah Nerud, a long-time patron of the branch. "When we get cabin fever in the middle of the winter and there's no place to go, we're six blocks away."
She and her daughter Beatrice wore matching "Save the South Side Library" shirts to show their support of a building Deborah called integral to the community.
"This is a gathering space, a town without a library is horrible. A town without one of its branches that serves us a huge population is also horrible. It needs to stay."
After the public hearing, which was scheduled to end near 5 p.m. Thursday night, Library Board members were planning to discuss potential changes to their budget that could avoid Deborah's worst fear.22379054
"This will avoid closing the south side branch," Library Director Kelly Krieg-Sigmun said of the proposed changes.
Mayor Tim Kabat said he was pleased with the changes, and hoped they would serve as a short-term stop-gap to solve the library's budget problems for the coming year. He said city officials and the Library Board would spend the next 12 months searching for a long-term solution that could address ongoing funding issues for all three branches.
If the Library Board would vote to approve the proposed changes to its budget Thursday night, the city Board of Estimates would take up the budget. It would ultimately go to City Council sometime in November for approval along with the entire city's budget.
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