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Gary residents demand their library back

Updated: July 7, 2012 8:51AM



GARY — For Linda Peterson, the public library is more than just a place to read.

It’s a community gathering place, it’s a way for young people to connect, it’s a safe house and a place to learn, grow and educate oneself.

“It’s the heart of the community,” she said. “It’s a crucial element of our system.”

She described how her son spent time at the library while she was at work. An average student, she said, he spent his time reading, and ended up with the second-highest SAT score at his high school.

And all of this took place at the now-defunct main branch of the Gary Public Library, which closed this year in favor of cultural center.

Tuesday night, a forum at Indiana University Northwest gathered supporters who want the library to reopen.

Library resources are critical to the community, she said: people use the library to apply for jobs, to obtain unemployment money, register to vote. The library serves also serves as an equalizer, she said.

“Everybody had access,” she said.

The most valuable thing that’s lost with the closing of the main library branch is the technology; most branches only have 15 computers, she said, while the main branch had 30.

William White of Merrillville called the library closing an “injustice.”

“The community had no involvement in what decisions were made,” White said.



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