Two Wichita public libraries could close under the city's new proposed budget.
The city is considering closing the Linwood Library in south Wichita next year and is looking at either closing or restructuring the Evergreen Library in north Wichita in 2020.
A recent study of all branch libraries found that Evergreen is the lowest-performing of the city's libraries, serving about 28,000 visitors, and the closest geographically to the Advanced Learning Library. The study also found that about 70 percent of Linwood's visitors said they utilized the old Central Library in downtown Wichita.
City Council member James Clendenin, who represents District 3 in south Wichita, said Tuesday he understands why the city would close Linwood, but expressed concern that some areas of the city are losing services. Linwood is one of just two public libraries south of Kellogg; about 55 percent of users there reported an annual household income of less than $30,000, among the lowest in the branch system.
“Right now in [the] southeast, there’s nothing" Clendenin said. "And you’re in one of the poorest areas that don’t have transportation to our downtown library, the Advanced Learning Library.
"Are we going to take a look at how we deploy those services to other areas of the city?”
The city earlier this year closed the small Comotara branch library, located in a Dillons grocery store at 21st and Rock Road. City manager Robert Layton says after making a $38 million investment in the new Advanced Learning Library, Wichita needs to rethink its branch libraries.
"I think that's an interesting policy issue that the council will want to address this next year, and that is at least continue to discuss what the role of the branch libraries is," he said.
The library closures are among several cost-cutting measures outlined in the $600 million proposed budget presented to City Council members at their meeting Tuesday. The budget also proposes:
- Following the Park Board's recommendation to close Clapp Golf Course and make other adjustments to the city's golf system to cut costs
- Adding $3.2 million to fund 21 commissioned and 11 civilian positions in the police department
- Reducing staff at the city animal shelter and partnering with a private organization to operate the shelter
- Partnering with private or nonprofit organizations to operate Cowtown and parts of CityArts
A public hearing on the budget is set for Aug. 7.