By Tierra Sheffield
Photo: Eastwood Branch Facebook
The Birmingham Public Library’s decision to furlough 158 of its employees and permanently close some of its branches has left employees and frequent library visitors upset—with families of employees now wondering how they will make due with income missing from the household.
“My mom worked there for 20 years and she was gonna retire in the next four,” Lexy Simpson said. “They don’t have enough to fund each employee.”
The Eastwood branch is now permanently closed, according to AL.com.
“It sucks that they’ve closed the [Eastwood] library, I went there every day after work,” said Denise Flenor. “I started bringing my grandson here because he loved coming. Now, I may have to go further from home.”
Other visitors have said that it will not be the same coming to their local library anymore. They won’t see the same faces they’re used to seeing, or they must find a new library to visit all together.
“It’s kind of devastating that so many people are being let go,” said Nycole Ware, a frequent visitor of the Southside branch. “My mom has been bringing me here since I was little. I know almost all of the people that work here.”
Robbie Johnson, an elder of the Fountain Heights/Enon Ridge community, said he’s hurt over the furloughs and closings.
“My girlfriends and me come here every Saturday for our bible meetings,” Johnson said. “Besides my house, this is the only quiet place I can come to.”
Both VanTrese Dailey and her niece Lillian Dailey said they have been coming to their local library for many years and are saddened by the furloughs.
“I bring my niece here more than I take her to the bookstore. It’s sad that they want to let so many of these people go,” VanTrese Dailey said.
“I don’t want them to leave. I like my library people,” Lillian Dailey said. “They know me and Lily by name, they know what books she loves to read, I don’t even know her favorite books that well.”
The employees aren’t the only ones that are leaving the branches. A few of the branches had animals ranging from reptiles to arachnids. Along with its two-legged staff members, the library is also letting go of some of its multi-legged members. According to AL.com, the Springville Road branch is looking to rehome several of its animals that were used in programs in the youth department.
“I would take them home, but my mom won’t allow me to have a ferret,” said Aliyah Bailey. “I don’t think it’s fair they get rid of the people and the animals, where are they supposed to go.”
Bailey is in her first year of high school and said she’s hurt by the library closing.
“What are they going to do about jobs, it’s gonna be weird going past the library and not be able to go in there,” Bailey said.
Edited by Hannah Warren & Ryan Michaels