When ten-year-old Abby Reid of Gillett Street began falling behind at West Middle School, she headed to the Mark Twain Branch of the Hartford Public Library and spent every day there until she was not only back on track but one of the top students in her class.
But now, Abby will have to find a new place to study since the Mark Twain Branch was closed earlier this month, as was the Blue Hills Branch.
Abby and her seven-year-old sister Ashaki,were among the dozens of people who spoke out against the library closings at a public hearing before Hartford City Council Monday night.
Before the meeting, Councilman Luis Cotto had announced that Mayor Eddie Perez has called on the Library’s Board of Directors to hold an emergency meeting with the public to gauge the reaction to the closings. During the hearing, Council President Calixto Torres said that council members and the mayor were against the closing of the two branches and had urged the library board to consider other options.
But those speaking at the meeting didn’t want to know who was to blame, they wanted to know what was being done to re-open the libraries.
West End resident Eva Christian said, “This problem is solvable. You are the leaders and we look to you to please step forward and do something.”
Blue Hills resident William Baker said, “Stop pointing fingers and make it happen.” Baker also said that the fact the library in the Blue Hills neighborhood has closed while the package store has expanded is not a good sign for the future.
While the Mark Twain Branch’s supporters have drawn the most publicity, Blue Hills residents are now becoming just as vocal about the closing of their library.
On Monday afternoon, members of the Blue Hills Civic Association (BHCA) and other local organizations held a rally at the Mark Twain School and the library in preparation for the hearing at City Hall.
After leading the crowd in a chant of “Close the prisons, open the libraries,” BHCA member Debra Matthews said, “Let’s not let them take our right and our privilege away. We are the Hartford Public Library.”
Library supporters are scheduled to go to court this Monday to try an get a temporary injunction against the closing of the two branches.