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Rock Island Library board looking at closing two branches

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The Rock Island Library's board of trustees is considering a plan to expand its downtown location while closing two neighborhood branches.

Trustees are in the midst of a major feasibility study, and they've chosen to pursue a proposal that would focus on the main library downtown. The city's 30/31 Branch on 30th Street and Southwest Branch on Ridgewood Road would close.

"We don't have enough money to operate three buildings, at least in our current financial climate," said library director Angela Campbell.

Campbell said the library has had a deficit budget for the past few years, but leaders have used reserve money to make up the difference. Now, those funds are running out.

"Nobody ever wants to close a library. It's just the harsh reality. When those buildings were built, 40-plus years ago, Rock Island was a lot larger city. We had a bigger tax base," said Campbell.

Campbell said the plan would include renovating and expanding the main library downtown. Built in 1903, the building has had two additions over the years. Work would likely maintain the original, historic portion of the building, while re-purposing the rest.

Tuesday, patrons at the Southwest Branch were frustrated by the proposal.

"We would never be doing the summer reading program or the classes. We would never go into town. It's a distance, and there' s a lot of people with kids out here," said Staci Priest, who brought her family to the library from Taylor Ridge.

Heather Muir walks to the 30/31 Branch almost once a week with her boys. While disappointed, she says the changes could have an upside, too.

"It was initial disappointment, I'm not gonna lie," said Muir. "But I love the idea of expanding downtown. I think it would bring a lot more people downtown and hopefully develop downtown more, so that's a really exciting piece to it, too."

Leaders hope to finish the study and have a consolidation plan by the end of the year.


  • Patron of Southwest Branch for 33 years

    Rock Island can spend millions on wasted land and legal fees with the Jumers Crossing all while letting our roads turn to junk and letting these neighborhood libraries close. These libraries and the very nice ladies that work there whom know you by name especially the Southwest Branch on Ridgewood Road should not be closed. Come on Rock Island, they do great service to our community while the mayor does the complete opposite.

    • Don't Support the Closures

      There might be less people in the city, but 80% of funding comes from property taxes, which have continued to rise, and its hard to find a home for sale in RI, meaning the rev has not changed. SW is self sustaining through the BH taxing district. The model was self sustaining until Campbell came on board. She has added over 120,000 in payroll for starters. The city has no money for an expansion. Meaning they will raise our taxes to pay for the down town remodel. By closing the libraries, RI limits access to their collection and information. We are the real losers…because we are losing access to information. Please tell your friends.

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