City-wide "read-in" to protest potential library closings

A view to the Central Library, from the American Legion Mall.

  • Image by Nyttend, via Wikimedia Commons
  • A view to the Central Library, from the American Legion Mall.

Local organizers are holding a "City Wide Read-In" this Wednesday, July 14, to protest the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library's proposal to close six local branches.

The read-in will be held at at 5:30pm, at the American Legion Mall, right in front of the central library, downtown.

IMCPL's board of trustees announced in April that millions of dollars in projected budget shortfalls necessitated drastic changes to stay in the black. Among the proposals most seriously considered is one that would close six branches around the city: Spades Park, Brightwood, Flanner House, Fountain Square, Glendale and West Indianapolis.

Critics say the closings would hit disadvantaged neighborhoods disproportionately hard. The library board says the closure selections were made based on proximity between branches.

Libraries faced shortfalls because of a dramatic drop in property tax revenues, which constitute roughly 80 percent of IMPCL's operating budget. Property tax revenues were eviscerated by the 2008 property tax cuts, which, if ratified by referendum this year, will permanently limit property taxes to a low, fixed percentage. Meanwhile, the housing bubble, gutted home values across the state.

The library board says a referendum on November's ballot could solve budget shortfalls by adding a $10 tax per taxpayer. But state and local officials say that's easier said than done, requiring changes in state law.

In May, however, Mayor Greg Ballard publicly pledged his support for the city's libraries, vowing to do everything in his power to make sure the six branches stay open. It remains to be seen how, exactly, Ballard plans to do so.

The final decision was originally slated for June, but was pushed back until July 15, the date of the next library board meeting. Organizers are encouraging people to come to the board meeting and speak up, as well.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, July 15th, at 6:30 p.m., at the Clewes Auditorium in the Central Library. For more information about the read-in and the upcoming board meeting, and to RSVP, click through to the Facebook page, here.