Camden, N.J., may close libraries

Aug. 7, 2010 at 12:02 AM
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CAMDEN, N.J., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Camden, N.J., may shut down its three libraries by the end of the year because of budget problems, officials say.

Martin McKernan, chairman of the library board of trustees, said at a meeting Thursday the system simply does not have the money to keep going, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He said Mayor Diane Redd told him last month the budget would be cut by about two-thirds.

Redd said the libraries are a top priority for more funding. Cuts in state aid have left her with a $28 million budget hole in the next fiscal year.

Camden's public library was founded with a $100,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie in 1904.

The library is one of the few places Camden residents can use computers for free. Robin Guenther, the children's librarian, said about 600 children have taken advantage of summer programs this year.

"Why isn't Camden worthy of a library?" she said. "How can you tell Camden, one of the poorest cities in the country, that they don't deserve a library?"

Shutting the libraries could be expensive, since homes would have to be found for historical records and microfilmed newspapers. Many of the books might simply end up in dumpsters, the newspaper said.

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