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Some Funding Restored For Jacksonville Libraries, Two Branches Still Set To Close

Kevin Meerschaert

Funding for several branches of the Jacksonville Public Library has been restored in the city budget, but two branches remain slated for closure.

At the first of three full-day budget hearings scheduled this week, the Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee placed money back in the budget for the Beaches, San Marco, Willowbranch and University Park branches.

Funding was not included for the Maxville and Brentwood branches.

Both branches have been previously recommended for closure. According to JPL’s Board of Trustees, Brentwood is in poor physical condition and is considered the least functional library in the system.

Maxville is not close to public transportation, and is the least used branch by far with only 13,120 visitors last year. Eastside had the second fewest visitors at 50,722.

Patrons at the Brentwood branch were surprised Wednesday afternoon when told the library might close. Several promised they would get in touch with council members to try and keep the library open.

Longtime resident Joyce Jackson says the library is an important part of the neighborhood where she goes often to read, write, and access a computer.

There is no other library in close proximity to either of the branches to be closed. Jackson says displaced patrons would have to go to the main branch downtown, which could be difficult for some.

The full city council could still put funding for the branches back in the budget, but that isn’t likely, as keeping the branches open is not a priority for library officials.

The Finance Committee is hoping to wrap up its work by Friday, but it has scheduled hearings for Saturday, and next Wednesday and Thursday as a contingency. 

The final millage rate for city property owners, which is based on the total annual expenses agreed upon in the budget, will be set in early September.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.