Posted: Mar 18, 2008 9:10 pm
Memphis will close five libraries and four community centers in an effort to make the organizations more efficient and keep a planned property tax hike lower , Mayor Willie Herenton said this afternoon.
Herenton told the City Council the closings will save $1.5 million to $2 million annually and are part of an overall “repositioning of city assets” that will require more “hard decisions” by the council.
Herenton also forcefully defended his handling of the Memphis Public Library and Information Center, including his decision to not reappoint longtime director Judith Drescher.
“No individual owns the library system,” said Herenton. “It is the city’s library system.”
Herenton said he was “embarrassed” by the condition of some library branches and that they needed to be closed.
“What we had at the library system was a culture of excellence centered around the central library (at 3030 Poplar),” said Herenton. “With some of the other libraries, it was neglect.”
Herenton also criticized the lack of diversity in management in the library system under Drescher. “They all look alike,” said Herenton. “They had no respect for diversity.”
Herenton said the city will close the Cossitt library at 33 S. Front, Gaston library at 1040 S. Third, Highland branch at 460 S. Highland; Levi branch at 3676 Highway 61 and the Poplar-White Station branch at 5094 Poplar.