100 Rally In Support Of Century Library

April 11, 2012

About 100 people from across the North Escambia area gathered Tuesday afternoon to show their support for the Century Branch Library.

“This is the place I can read my books,” Maille Kilcrase, age 8, of Bryneville said. “In the library we can learn facts about stuff. And it can take us on journeys in books without going there.”

“Save Our Library”, “Don’t Close Our Library” — were a few of the signs held by people of all ages and backgrounds as they stood outside the library that could be closed by the start of the next fiscal year. The county may pull its contribution to the library system under a plan proposed by County Administrator Randy Oliver, closing the Century Branch Library and never opening the currently under-construction Molino Library.

Century brothers William and Charles Joyner can often been seen along North Century Boulevard, riding their scooters to the Century Branch Library. “The library is a life saver for us,” William Joyner said. “It allows us to get movies. I don’t know how they can close it.”

“This is the place were I go to study,” 18-year old Northview High School student Matt Watson said. “There are too many distractions at home.”

For more photos from the rally, click here.

The county is facing a $9.5 million budget shortfall, most of which is due to a new Medicaid law signed by Gov. Rick Scott. That law will force the county to pay $6.2 million to the state for disputed Medicaid bills that have been adding up for about a decade.

To make up the shortfall, Escambia County is looking to cut 100 percent of its funding for branch libraries — all $3.7 million. Escambia County funds about 75 percent of the current library system, while the City of Pensacola funds about 25 percent. Libraries in the city will not be closed.

“Closing this library will hurt our kids,” said Crystal Criswell of Walnut Hill, mother of three children under 10. “It’s going to hurt FCAT scores. The library provides and promotes literacy for our kids here. A lot of people don’t have the means to go to Pensacola.”

On Thursday, Escambia County Commissioners will consider at least three options to keep the libraries open — an August referendum in which voters could approve a property tax levy; a property tax levy imposed by the county without referendum; a yearly user fee — $50 per person has been suggested — imposed on every Escambia County resident that uses the library.

“We love this library,” said Michelle Driscoll of Byrneville. She frequently uses the library with her children, ages 5 and 6. “The children on this end of the county need this library, deserve this library. To close it would be an injustice.”

Bette Hooton, president of the library’s board of directors agrees. ““It shocking, absolutely shocking, to consider that Escambia might be the only county in the state without a library system.”

“The library provides a lifeline to the internet,” said Liana Lambeth of Century, mother of two. “Some people have no internet or computer at home. The library provides perfect internet plus books for our kids.

“We are here at least one or two times per week,” said Theresa Lambeth, who has five grandchildren that use the library. “When you are trying to keep food on the table, the library provides books and internet.”

Escambia County owns the building and property of the Century Branch Library and owns the under construction Molino Library property. However, all of the books and other materials are owned by the City of Pensacola, including about 11,000 items in the Century library.

The West Florida Public Library Board voted unanimously last week to request the Escambia County Commission directly levy a property tax increase to keep public libraries open in the county.

With a vote of three of five commissioners, the commission can levy the .35 mils tax increase — about $35 on a $100,000 home. But if commissioners do not approve the tax increase, the issue could go to the voters as a referendum on the August ballot.

The Escambia County Commission will consider the issue at its Committee of the Whole meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday. Wooton and the Friends of the Library are asking residents to attend the meeting, wearing red, to show their support for the county’s libraries.

For more photos from the rally, click here.

Pictured: North Escambia residents rally in support of the Century Branch Library Tuesday afternoon. Pictured top inset: Andrew, age 3, expresses sadness at the thought of closing the Century Branch Library. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


21 Responses to “100 Rally In Support Of Century Library”

  1. TRENT on April 12th, 2012 2:26 pm

    i see u lexi

  2. info on April 12th, 2012 8:59 am

    It can be watched on the internet from the escambia county web page. Live or recorded at a later date.

  3. William on April 11th, 2012 8:56 pm

    >>William, what is the place and address of the council meeting tomorrow?

    It’s the Escambia County Commission Committee of the Whole held in the Board Chambers, Room 100 at 221 Palafox Place, Pensacola

  4. Criswell Criswell on April 11th, 2012 8:54 pm

    William, what is the place and address of the council meeting tomorrow?

  5. Patty on April 11th, 2012 7:34 pm

    I can’t believe the county is doing this to us again, but since they ALWAYS do it to the north end of the county I guess it should not be a surprise.

    Thanks county commissioners, do you want me to tell you who is NOT getting my vote the next election?

  6. Missy on April 11th, 2012 6:15 pm

    Why am I not surprised. Every good thing that comes to the north end ends up taken from us. How about closing some of the branch libraries in Pensacola. How many do you have by the way? People in Pensacola can drive a few blocks to use another library. We up here would have to drive to Pensacola to use a public library in our county.

  7. MolinoMay on April 11th, 2012 4:04 pm

    I was at the Century Library Tuesday afternoon and it was wonderful to see all the people there, and I hope even more people show up for Thursdays council meeting. And let them know just how wrong they are for trying to shut down something that people use and enjoy SHAME on them and shame on all of you who write, shut them down no one needs them, they are a thing of the past , and go buy a book or any other mean thing that comes out of your month. The way I look at it we who live out in the county should support and fright for what we have out here, because we sure don’t have much. And I for one am so tried of waiting to get our Library the only thing I can say is enough is enough stop trying top take everything.

  8. KB on April 11th, 2012 4:03 pm

    Trish, maybe teachers SHOULD correct grammer again. The English language is getting really sloppy…..Surely the county can find a way to keep our libraries open. There is a wealh of knowledge that can be tapped into between the pages of a book!

  9. Kelley Sanders on April 11th, 2012 3:48 pm

    The Century Library is the best thing that Century has to offer the children in this community. It would be a HUGE mistake to close it.

  10. Cathy Ingram on April 11th, 2012 3:24 pm

    The only sure way to fund libraries now and for future is to levy a tax to create a dedicated source of funding to end this annual exercise. If our commissioners won’t be leaders and come up with the funds, then yes, the public must pay (granted a small amount per household) for this service just as we pay for fire, sheriff, and other important services in the County. Before you disagree, visit one of the library branches more than once to find out how important they are to your community. Visit http://www.pensacolacitygov.com/library for more information.

  11. Bette Hooton on April 11th, 2012 11:35 am

    Thank you, all, for the wonderful support for our libraries. And taxing is a last resort, of course. We want the County to “find the money.” We want them to stop picking on us–line by line the budget should be looked at and all groups that are financed by the General Fund should be cut to make up for this shortfall. I promise you we will do our best. We expect 700 people tomorrow morning at 9am at the County offices in Pensacola. Join us and wear a red shirt.

  12. concerned on April 11th, 2012 11:16 am

    “Reading is fundamental”…..very wise words in more ways than one! I have always loved to read and I have tried to pass that on to my children. In the future, I see our libraries as a thing of the past because of mainly the internet and all the new devices that are to be available. But for now, we need books! Our library here in Century is worth it”s weight in gold and so are the people who work there. Ms.Pat, Rhonda and Christie are always very helpful and nice to everyone involved. The programs that they have for the kids are great and very educational. Keep up the good work because it is appreciated very much!

  13. Trish on April 11th, 2012 11:02 am

    @ grammar cop: school teachers do not correct a students grammar any more. Talk to the school system about that one.

  14. Southerner on April 11th, 2012 9:33 am

    Let them buy or borrow books , if they want to read so much. Lower taxes so we could all afford more books.

  15. me on April 11th, 2012 7:54 am

    The library is a place that everyone can use and enjoy, no matter their race, age, tax bracket or gender. Tax dollars fund all sorts of programs, such as food stamps and medicaid, that not everyone is eligible for. So why shouldn’t our tax dollars fund the library, that is for everyone?

  16. grammar cop on April 11th, 2012 7:50 am

    Apparently Century’s library needs to carry more books teaching proper usage of “it’s” and “its.” :-p

    FLMOMO4 has a great idea. Many times when I go to the library, any library, the computers are manned by Facebook zombies who blatantly ignore the time limit rules. So annoying…

  17. Lawson Berry on April 11th, 2012 7:47 am

    If the commissioners levy a property tax to support the libraries, it will just be a “foot in the door” or the “camels nose in the tent”. I’m afraid we will see a gradual increase in this tax until it will be the sole supporter of all libraries. We’d better start to do everything we can to keep politicians hands off our wallet. We are addicted to spending. We want it all. When will we realize we can’t afford it all?
    I love libraries and I hope a way is found to keep them open. No tax increase, though.

  18. charlie w. on April 11th, 2012 7:17 am

    If you won,t a library, use a library, that good. You pay for it to. User fees is the way to go. We are taxed enough already. NO MORE TAXES!

  19. FLMOMO4 on April 11th, 2012 5:47 am

    I’m not sure the fee of $50.00 PER person is the answer. As a family of six, I’m already looking for another avenue; $300.00 per year is too much for my pocket. Get creative and look for other ways to save money. Here are some suggestions: Open 4 days a week, open later in the day, limit the number of paid staff and create more volunteer positions, raise the thermostat temp in the summer and lower it in the winter. Charge for the use of conference rooms and a monthly fee for the internet & printing. IMHO

  20. M on April 11th, 2012 5:33 am

    You can alwas increase taxes.This seems to be any level of governments answer to their needs for money.But we know that the spending habits are the problem.Plain and simple.Instead of pickiting the library,pickit the spending and you would have the library.

  21. Jane on April 11th, 2012 5:00 am

    Wise words from the mouths of babes! Libraries are important in so many ways. I see a time when books will be in several forms but I hope they will still be in libraries for our children to use and learn from and to go on “incredible journeys”!

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