Gary main library could reopen by end of year
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3154 February 18, 2013 9:32PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 9:47AM
GARY — The main branch of the Gary Public Library is on course to once again become a library.
Closed last January following a 40 percent cut in the budget, library officials hoped to turn the 50-year-old building into a museum and cultural center.
The move triggered an outcry in the community and led Robert Buggs to form Citizens to Save the Gary Public Library. The group gathered 5,000 signatures in opposition, filed a court injunction and lobbied to get library board members recalled.
On Monday, Buggs became a member of the library board, taking his oath office at a School Board meeting. Buggs replaced former board president Tony Walker who resigned. Walker had led the movement to transform the library into the cultural center to cut down on expenses, but still offer services to the public.
Buggs’ appointment assures there’s a majority bloc of board members who favor reopening the library.
“My number one priority is to get the library opened as a main library,” Buggs said.
He favors reopening the library, but staggering the hours and days it’s open.
The change in course comes after Powers & Sons Construction began renovating the library into a cultural center at a cost of $2.9 million.
Books and furniture were moved to other branch locations, and the main floor looks like a dusty construction site. The library board has sought to reduce Powers’ contract in the wake of the stymied renovation project, and it wants the building transformed into a library.
Buggs said he’s worried that archives taken from the Indiana Room and moved to the basement may have mold damage now.
Property tax caps, low tax collections decimated the library’s budget, forcing layoffs and leaving the board to consider closing branches or the main library.
Now, Buggs says he hopes the library will be reopened by the end of the year.