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Mayor pledges support for libraries

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IMCPLs Central Branch
  • Image by Nyttend, via Wikimedia Commons
  • IMCPL's Central Branch

Great news today, as reported by the Indiana Business Journal:

Mayor Greg Ballard is committed to keeping open six library branches that the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library might close because of budget constraints.

Details of a plan to assist the library system have yet to emerge, but the city is pledging its support, city spokesman Robert Vane said Wednesday morning, as residents express concerns about the potential closures.[...]

"The mayor has no appointments to the library board, and we have no fiscal authority," Vane said. "But the mayor has said that these libraries are a vital part of our neighborhoods. He has pledged this administration's support to keep them open."

As the Mayor's spokesman admitted, it remains to be seen exactly how the mayor plans to save the libraries. As we pointed out recently (see here), much of the control over moneys — or potential moneys — that go to Marion County libraries actually belongs to the state.

Only the state has the power, for example, to grant libraries the right to a public referendum, come November. Ditto for tapping into other funding sources, like the County Option Income Tax, as some have suggested doing.

But other solutions must remain. My guess is the money can be found somewhere else in the budget to plug this hole — at least in the short term — until state-level reforms are made that take libraries off the chopping block for the foreseeable future.

Ballard has put his chips in on this one, and it would be bad news were he to back out now. That's encouraging because, politically, he sort of has to figure something out.

Hats off to the mayor for taking that leap of faith. And hats off to all the protesters and organizers who brought the heat. The battle's not won yet, but today's news is unequivocally good.

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