Last 2 Hammond library branches to close

September 28, 2011 (HAMMOND, Ind.)

The Hammond Library Board voted Tuesday night to close the EB Hayward and Howard library branches. Those closures will go into effect November 1.

p> Library officials blame the bad economy and not enough funding.

People who use the libraries are preparing for a huge inconvenience

Kamal Hamed and his step son come to the EB Hayward branch several times a week. Hamed is looking for a job and relies on the Internet service at the library. His son reads the children's books.

"This area is a low-income area. Behind us is low-income housing. Most of them don't have vehicles, so they walk here," said Hamed. "If they close this one down, they're gonna have to go all the way to downtown Hammond. That's a good walk, so I really think it's a bad idea to close this one down."

The shelves will soon be empty and reading programs will end for children at the EB Hayward and the Howard library branches in Hammond. The main library downtown will remain open.

"Take away a library, that's for the kids. That's like taking away from our children. That isn't right," said Hammond resident Roy Speelman.

The library board and managers say there about $1.2 million in the hole for two reasons. One, because of the economy, people aren't paying property taxes which fund libraries in Indiana. Two, they say a cap on property taxes enacted by the state lawmakers limits the amount of money generated for public libraries.

The board made the final decision in a meeting Tuesday night.

"When you take away the opportunity to read, to learn, to grow, to research, you devastate them, you put them in an area where their lives are changed," said Hammond Public Library Director Rene' L. Greenleaf. "People don't understand the importance of libraries."

Seven employees who worked at the two branches will be transferred to the city's main library.

The libraries will close November 1.

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