Public meeting to discuss possible library closing tonight - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

South Branch Library to stay open for now

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- The La Crosse Public Library's South Branch will stay open, at least for another year.

The library board originally proposed to close the branch because of budget concerns. The library, which has three branches total, is projected to run a more than $260,000 deficit next year.

But the possible closure was met with swift opposition. Thursday night, the library board heard comments from the public, like Daryl Keys, the father of a two-year-old daughter.

"I read Avery three books and when she goes to bed, she gets another two or three books," Keys said.

Those books come from the South Branch. In fact, Daryl says he and his wife bought their house because of it's proximity to the library. They take their daughter to story time every week.

"That is her favorite place to go."

That's why Daryl spoke out against the proposal to close the library, along with nearly two dozen others. And the requests didn't fall on deaf ears.

"I've served on this board for over 30 years and I've never seen anything like it," said Tom Sleik, the Library Board of Trustees President. "I'm just so pleased that people care."

So the library board voted six-to-one in favor of new proposal to keep the south branch open, by cutting 6 hours a week from the north and south side libraries and using a reserve fund to compensate for the deficit.

"What we're doing, is wiping out our surplus, our carry over from prior years," Sleik said.

And that's a gamble. The solution is only a temporary fix. After next year, the reserves will be drained and it will be up to the city council to find a solution for all three branches to remain open. And, the library will be without a rainy day fund, which in the past was used for things like security upgrades.

"It's based on the representation by Mayor Kabat that he will do everything he can to encourage the council to come up with funding after 2014," Sleik said.

Mayor Kabat is on board with the plan and will put together a task force to search for money in future budgets. For now, the South Branch is granted a reprieve, much to the relief of the community and parents like Daryl.

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