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Residents show support at City Hall during a rally for the library

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Sixty residents showed up in front of City Hall Tuesday at 9 a.m. in support of saving the city’s libraries. The Twelve Bridges Library is facing $125,000 in budget cuts, which may affect the programs offered at the library, as well as the hours it is open, according to previous comments made two weeks ago by Darla Wegener, director of library services for Lincoln. The cost to operate the Carnegie Library is $90,000 a year to operate, according to previous comments made by Shirley Russell. Russell, longtime Lincoln resident and Lincoln Friends of the Library member, invited the City Manager Jim Estep to join the supporters outside before the rally started, but was told Estep was on the phone and had a city meeting at 9 a.m. All ages showed up, the youngest being seven-month-old Brevyn Waters, to raise awareness in the community about future budget cuts to the Twelve Bridges library, and possible closing of the Carnegie Library. Brevyn was at the rally with his mother Brandy Waters, and sister Shea Waters, 2. “I want to go to the library, (because) I like to pick out books,” said Shea. Brandy Waters, who also has a four-year-old son, said she and her family go to the library weekly, to participate in the Mother Goose on the Loose program and to check out books. “My husband and I don’t buy books, we go to the library,” said Waters. While her family mainly uses the Twelve Bridges Library, Waters said she “wouldn’t like to see the Carnegie close because of people without transportation.” “I think this is a great way to show support of the library, and I hope they show the city and community how important libraries are to Lincoln,” Wegener said. “It doesn’t take much to show support.” Wegener was at City Hall for a meeting, and addressed the crowd before she went inside to attend the meeting, thanking the supporters. “You guys make me proud to live and work here in Lincoln,” Wegener said. Russell addressed the crowd, encouraging them to help raise money to keep the Carnegie Library open for two years. Russell said the total amount to keep the historic library open for two years is $151,340. The operating cost is $9,315, and to staff the library is $79,332. Russell also said there is over $25,000 left over in a fund from the 1990s that had been used to re-model the Carnegie Library. “We’re not here to fight other organizations or say we don’t like where the money has gone in the past,” Russell told the library supporters. “Let’s be proactive!” Other members from the Lincoln Friends of the Library attended. “I’m pleased that this many people turned out and that we have this much passion about saving the library. Everyone needs to be aware of the trouble we’re in,” said Andy McMurtrie, a Lincoln Friends of the Library member. “There will be lots of different ways to raise money, we can do this.” Carol Wilson, another resident, expressed a different viewpoint regarding the fate of the Carnegie Library. She suggested the older library be closed, because “the economy doesn’t support two libraries.” “Not that I would like to see it (closed,)” said Wilson. “If it keeps the one library going, I’m for that. I’d rather have one than none.”