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4th Warders split on branch libraries

Speakers at a 4th Ward meeting Tuesday offered sharply differing views about the proposed shutdown of Evanston’s branch libraries.

The ward, located near the geographic center of Evanston, stretches from just across the street from the main library at its northeast corner, to just across the railroad tracks from the South Branch library near its southeast corner.

Speakers at a 4th Ward meeting Tuesday offered sharply differing views about the proposed shutdown of Evanston’s branch libraries.

The ward, located near the geographic center of Evanston, stretches from just across the street from the main library at its northeast corner, to just across the railroad tracks from the South Branch library near its southeast corner.

When asked by Alderman Don Wilson whether their biggest concern with the city budget was preserving the branch libraries, about five of the 40 people in the room raised their hands.

And when people got a chance to share their views, more spoke in support of closing the branches than opposed the idea.

One man said Evanston is not very large geographically and has good public transit. He said he’d grown up in a town with only one library and didn’t see the branches as all that valuable.

A woman said the branch libraries seemed to be a reasonable place to make cuts.

Another man said the issue comes down to necessity versus luxury. If the choice is between having garbage pickup or having a library within a block, he’d go with having the garbage pickup and get on the el to visit the main library.

But another speaker said the branch libraries have value as communities centers. Kids aren’t walking to the main library, he said, and it’s not easy for someone who’s retired and can’t walk very far to get on the el and go downtown.

Another woman said she moved to Evanston because of the South Branch library and noted that the branch, opened in 1917 was kept open during the depression.

But another speaker said that after sitting through Saturday’s City Council budget workshop he was impressed with the job done by the city staff in preparing the budget cuts which affect all city departments. "I think the suggested cuts are very sensible and reasonable," he added.

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