DeKalb library to stay open thanks to 12-year-old

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By Megan Matteucci; Photo by Johnny Crawford

Reprinted by permission of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Originally posted March 24 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

South DeKalb’s Scott Candler Library will temporarily remain open four days a week. Last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the McAfee Road library would close April 1 because of budget cuts.

After complaints from residents and a petition with 100 signatures collected by 12-year-old Sekondi Landry, the library board of trustees decided to keep the library open. The library will be open Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

“I’m so happy. I just got back from the library,” said Landry, who is home-schooled. “I go every day.”

The library will monitor funding and decide June 30 if the library needs to close. Last month, the County Commission rejected a tax hike and cut $33.6 million from the 2011 budget, including $3 million -- about 22 percent -- from the library budget.

In response, the library trustees voted to close the Scott Candler branch and reduce hours at the 22 other branches. The trustees initially chose to close that branch because a new library will open several blocks down the street in about a year, library officials said.

The County Commission criticized the trustees’ decision and asked them to keep the library open. However, the county did not give the library any more funding. Commissioner Larry Johnson said 6,000 people use the computers each month to study and search for jobs.

Although the library will remain open, services will be reduced, including less staff and the elimination of a library outreach program.

“We’re working on razor-thin staffing at this point,” library spokeswoman Janet Florence said.
State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, D-Atlanta, said she plans to recognize Landry with a resolution in the Legislature next week.

“Much of the credit for the Scott Candler Library remaining open goes to Sekondi Landry for bringing attention to this issue,” she said.

Johnson has appointed Landry to a committee to help the Scott Candler library transition into the new library next year.

The county also plans to open the Hairston Crossing Library next month with reduced hours. The library, located on Redan Road in Stone Mountain, has been closed for the past 20 months for renovations. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for April 16 at 11 a.m.

Photo caption: Sekondi Landry (12), holds his sign and his signatures to save the Scott Candler Library.