News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 19, 2013

Big turnout supports WTH library branch

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — In the unlikely event any members of the Vigo County Public Library board of directors doubted how much residents of West Terre Haute like their small branch library, they should have no doubt now.

Dozens of residents of West Terre Haute packed a small VCPL meeting room Monday evening and pleaded with the seven-person library board to keep a library branch operating on the west side of the Wabash River.

Although no motion is before the board to close the existing branch, built in the 1940s, some residents clearly worry that could happen.

“The price of gas is too high for many of our families” to drive to the main branch in Terre Haute, said Suzanne Marrs, principal of Sugar Creek Consolidated Elementary and the leadoff speaker in the public comment portion of the meeting.

The library provides a safe place for kids, a gateway to a better education and the technology many residents of West Terre Haute lack in their homes, such as computers with Internet connections, several speakers stated.

The small West Terre Haute branch is a “spring in the desert,” said Peggy Pfrank, principal of West Vigo Elementary. She read notes from her school’s students expressing their fondness for the small library, located on West National Avenue.

At the conclusion of these and other comments, the library board voted to put off any action until a future meeting. Board members received a large amount of information last week, including circulation figures, said Hank Metzger, board president. Tabling any action gives the board more time to look at those data, he said.

The library board also voted – at the same time – to direct the library’s staff to develop a plan that would take into account all of Vigo County. While West Terre Haute has a clear need and struggles with poverty, so do other sections of Vigo County, library Director Kristi Howe said.

There is no plan to close the West Vigo branch, Howe said after the meeting. The subject of the west branch came up recently only after someone offered to donate property on National Avenue for a new branch facility, she said.

No action on the branch is expected at next month’s meeting, Metzger and Howe said after the meeting. The next VCPL board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the main branch downtown.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.