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Jacksonville Public Library May Get First Budget Increase In A Decade

Melissa Hillier

It remains to be seen whether Jacksonville libraries will get more operating hours and resources this year.

City Council members discussed how libraries serve the community Friday morning.

Jacksonville public libraries suffered significant budget cuts in 2012. But Library Board Chair Erin Skinner says she’s hopeful as a new City Council discusses the budget and the Capital Improvement Plan.

“This is actually the first budget cycle in 10 years that the library has not been asked to make cuts to our budget,” Skinner said. “Also it’s the first time in that same time that we have had projects included in the CIP.”

Mayor Lenny Curry included money to fund four library projects in his proposed budget. Barbara Gubbin with the library says libraries are partnering with Duval County Public Schools to give all kids, K-through-5 a library card. But Councilman John Crescimbeni says he’s concerned about many libraries’ closing at 6 in the evening.

Crescimbeni said, “I want to make sure these kids that now are being promoted to go to the library don't find a door that says ‘Sorry, we’re closed.’”

Gubbin says if the city approves extra hours, they’ll probably go toward the most highly-trafficked libraries. Some council members asked if the hours would be better used in the urban core area. But Gubbin says people aren’t using the smaller, older libraries there as much.

Photo credit: Jacksonville Public Library, Main Branch by Melissa Hillier is used under CC BY 2.0.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.