Local News

Harnett communities fight to save libraries

Posted July 18, 2011 10:43 p.m. EDT
Updated July 20, 2011 5:37 p.m. EDT

— The Coats and Anderson Creek communities of Harnett County are fighting to save their local libraries, which commissioners say they were forced to close due to budget cuts.

At a council meeting in Angier Monday night, residents urged county leaders to reconsider the decision, which commissioners said will save the county about $140,000, for the sake of educating the children in those communities.

"When we take their resources away and they don't succeed, we'll be pointing our fingers at them, but the children will turn around and point fingers at us," said Leigh Ann Westbrook. "How many more educational things can we take away from our children?"

Home-schooled student Spencer Westbrook, 12, also spoke at the meeting in support of his community library.

"Almost all of my learning is done at the Coats library," Spencer Westbrook said.

The town of Coats has an agreement with Harnett County to be given six months notice before closing any library, but the libraries were closed with only a few weeks warning, residents said.

"We got down to those last few days and we had to have a budget by July 1, so it was an oversight and we'll correct that," said Chairman Timothy McNeill.

McNeill said commissioners had to cut more than $6 million from the county budget because they didn't raise taxes. He said they'll work with the town of Coats to honor the six-month agreement.

"The books are still there. The computers are there. The town of Coats was paying the light bill anyway, so it's just a matter of personnel to keep the doors open," he said.

Residents who attended Monday's meeting offered a possible solution: staffing the libraries with volunteers.

Commissioners said it's an option they'll consider.