Hammond library supporters stage rally

2013-05-13T19:30:00Z 2013-05-14T18:31:04Z Hammond library supporters stage rallyChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Holding umbrellas and chanting “Save the Library,” a group of 12 people rallied in support of the Hammond Public Library before Monday’s City Council meeting.

Library supporters held umbrellas outside City Hall on a sunny Monday afternoon, alluding to the $526,041 funding request before the Hammond City Council for approval.

Most of the request is from money set aside in the library’s “rainy day fund.” The library will use the money to fund maintenance projects, such as repairing the broken air conditioning system and upgrading computers.

Motorists along Calumet Avenue honked, with one giving a thumbs-up to the chants during the hour-long rally.

“We wanted to have a rally to show support of the community in keeping the library open,” said Albertine Dent, a Hammond Library Board member. “To have a library in a city not in operation is unconscionable.”

The library is requesting the money following the council's denial of its original budget request. Library officials have stressed the money is available in existing cash balances but can’t be used without council approval. While most of the money is from the library's "rainy day fund," $2,000 will come from the lease rental fund.

The Hammond City Council set a public hearing for its June 10 meeting on the request.

Attia Gray, a Hammond Academy of Science and Technology student, said she has been a patron of the library her entire life.

“It’s a nice place to study and research,” Gray said. “It’s hard to think we wouldn’t have a library.”

Rose Allen, of Hammond, participated in the rally because her grandchildren use the library.

“It’s important to my grandkids,” Allen said. “There’s so much knowledge in the library. They can go on a computer to get it, but it’s so good to read it.”

Support from residents is important because the board can “only do so much,” said Allan Zlatarich, a Friends of the Library member.

Zlatarich said the maintenance items are critical.

“We have money sitting there we can’t spend,” Zlatarich said. “This is what this is about today.”

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