If passed in October, 22 Miami-Dade libraries may close, and more than 250 jobs may be lost Justin Finch reports.
The full bookshelves and ample supply of computers are what draw in patrons of all ages.
"I like playing games on the computer," said 6-year-old Dweeninha Theogene.
Adults use the Golden Glades' computers too. Some stop in search online for jobs, others for housing. They are among the eight million people the county estimates its branches welcome each year, a number more than three times MiamiDade's population.
"I like to come here and practice my work, and study, and do my homework," said Marie Teda, a mother and part-time student.
Come fall, Teda may have to go elsewhere. Last week, Miami-Dade commissioners voted 8-4 in favor Mayor Carlos Gimenez's proposal to keep the county's property tax rates flat.
According to the Gimenez's office, "[In libraries,] these adjustments will result in the reduction of service and closure of 10 storefront libraries, and up to 12 other libraries."
If passed this October, 251 library jobs would go, and the county's 49 branches would drop by 22, including the Golden Glades.
"If it close I'm not going to be too happy about that," Teda said.
If the proposal goes through, some patrons say it could cost the mayor their support.
"I will try to do anything I can just to vote him out of office," said Urby Metyr, a father of two daughters.
Metyr called the proposal outrageous, and notes that most of the branches that could close are in less affluent areas of Miami Dade County. The Miami Herald reports those branches include the following; California Club, Civic Center Kiosk, Concord, Country Walk, Culmer, Doral, Fairlawn, Golden Glades, Hialeah Gardens, Lakes of the Meadows, Lemon City, Little River, Model City, North Shore, Opa-locka, Palm Springs North, Shenandoah, South Shore, Sunset, Tamiami, and West Kendall Regional.
Metyr insists county officials find ways to close the library system's multimillion dollar budget shortfall that won't effect young patrons.
"What about the future of our kids? Do you really want them to prosper? Do you really want them to excel," he asked.
Not all patrons agree.
"Look at Greece," pointed out Carl O'Hyde.
Using Greece's money troubles as example, O'Hyde agrees with the mayor, and says keeping branches open for now could hurt the county much more later.
"[Greece is] falling apart because they pay too much, but they don't have no money," O'Hyde explained.
A rally in support of the libraries is scheduled for Saturday, July 27, at 2 p.m. outside the Concord branch. Public hearings on the budget and proposals will begin Aug. 6, 2013 at 6 p.m.