3rd-grader hopes to save South Branch Library of La Crosse

9-year-old Kaitlyn Erickson organized a read-a-thon

The South Branch Library in La Crosse is once again in jeopardy of closing its doors, but a 3rd-grader is stepping up to help save the library.

Back in October, a tight budget meant the libraries needed to make cuts. After a push from the public, both the library and the city dug into reserve funds to temporarily keep the doors open while they look for a permanent solution.

However, that money may not even last through the end of this year. Now one La Crosse resident has decided to do something about it.

Kaitlyn Erickson remembers going to the South Branch Library at a very young age with her grandma to enjoy story time. When she heard that it might be closing, she knew she had to find a way to help.

Kaitlyn is a typical third grader. She goes to school, practices her viola and hangs out with friends, but this 9-year-old is showing she is wise beyond her years.

“I am proposing a read-a-thon for saving the South Branch Library,” said Kaitlyn.

Kaitlyn spent her morning talking to her classmates about her efforts to save a library.

“I started a Save The Library Club to save the South Branch Library because it’s a big part of our community,” said Kaitlyn.

“I’ve probably taken her to the library on a consistent basis since she was 18 months old,” said Kaitlyn’s grandma, Joyce Erickson.

Erickson said it’s a library Kaitlyn grew up in, so she had no choice but to tell Kaitlyn the truth that the library’s future isn’t clear.

“According to our library director, to keep the north side or south side open, they would have to have another $255,000 in the budget process to keep all of them open,” said Andrea Richmond, 1 st District council member.

Kaitlyn and her grandma wanted to learn more, so they attended a public forum and Kaitlyn even got a chance to speak.

“When they called her, she got up in front of the crowd and she read her little speech,” said Erickson.

Kaitlyn found inspiration from a few ideas written on a piece of paper.

“The first thing I knew when I had the idea for this, I ran outside waving a poster in the air,” said Kaitlyn.

“A big banner that said ‘Save the Library Club’ and she had decided that she was going to form a club and do activities to save the library,” said Erickson.

Kaitlyn’s first fundraiser is a read-a-thon at her school. She is asking everyone to read at least 30 minutes a day.

“You can go around to people in your neighborhood or in your family and right here you can put the person’s name, their address, city or ZIP code and the amount of money they can spend,” said Kaitlyn. “Our goal is to get at least $1,000, but I think it will be more than that.”

A big goal for such a little girl, but with a heart as big as hers anything is possible.

Students from Hamilton and SOTA 1 will participate in Kaitlyn’s read-a-thon next week.

All of the money collected in pledges and donations will go to the La Crosse Library in hopes of saving the South Branch. If you would like to donate to Kaitlyn and help support her cause, her grandmother set up a fund at River Bank called Save Our South Branch Library.