Westtown Library to reopen - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Westtown Library to reopen

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Almost a year after two Dougherty County library branches were closed because of budget woes, County Commissioners today voted to re-open one of them. Some Commissioners said they heard lots of complaints from library users, so they decided to re-open Westtown on a limited basis.

Commissioners complained they were blind sided by the Library Board's decision last year to close the branches, and today in a close vote they decided to provide the funds to re-open one of the branches for at least 16 hours a week.

Neighbors around the library said it's the right thing to do. 10 year old Di'Asia Frazier likes to read, and was shocked when Westtown Library was closed last year.  "I was like 'Why would they do that? People like to read,'" said Frazier.

And it wasn't just the young. 71 year old Ben Marshall said it was a vital part of their community. "I've used it myself, and even my grand kids. And when they closed it, I was kind of shocked. But I think they should open it, because we need it in this neighborhood."

Commissioners debated the issue longer than any other this morning. The budget still can't afford the libraries, but is this really the place to cut? 

Commissioner Gloria Gaines said "That's one of the amenities in any community that creates a good quality of life for all citizens. And we took that away. And we heard from our citizens."

Commissioners voted 4 to 3 to provide $68,000 to re-open Westtown 16 hours a week, and then next year see if the budget has improved enough to keep it open full time.

"I'll take 16 hours. But I prefer it be open all the time, but I'll take the 16 hours," Lawanda Walker said.

 "The commission can and should and did decide to open that library. The Westtown library, and I'm happy about it," Gaines said.

And Di'Asia Frazier is glad she'll again have a library close by to get more books to read. Library board members say they hope to have Westtown Library up and running again by December or January.

All the neighbors we talked to today said they will be very glad to have it open again. There are three library branches in Dougherty County, including the temporary downtown branch while the main library is being renovated.

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