Crusader Staff Report
It closed five years ago after maintenance costs climbed and years and years of financial woes took a toll. Now, Gary’s 109-year-old main library has a new name and more facilities as part of a fresh renovation. After years of repairs, reorganizing and upgrades, the library is reopening as the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center.
Located at 220 W. 5th Avenue, the library is scheduled to open to the public on Jan. 27. A ribbon cutting and open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
The renovated former Main Library building includes a 100-seat theatre and a spacious community room with kitchen. Patrons can rent them both for community programs, social events and functions.
The library also has a new adult computer lab with 41 computers. The children’s computer lab provides 20 computers. There is also a wi-fi lounge, a tutoring lab, Friends Store, second floor study area, additional gallery space and new Indiana Room of local history.
The library seeks the public’s input on images to be included on a mural to be created for the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center. Submission forms are available at all library units and on the library’s website, www.garypubliclibrary.org.
The W.E.B. Du Bois branch, at 1835 Broadway, which served as the main library during the renovation, will close after 38 years once the new main library reopens. The branch’s books and materials will be transferred to the main library.
The main library closed in 2012 and left many residents concerned about the facility’s future. An audit from the Indiana State Board of Accounts showed the library lost $11 million in revenue between 2012 and 2015. The losses were attributed to a new property tax circuit breaker that voters approved in 2010 and a dramatic decline in library revenue.
The audit also said the library paid some vendors twice, resulting in over payments of $28,000. The audit also cited the library for incomplete payroll records and said the facility lacked internal controls of money handling.
Library officials responded by closing the main library and the Tolleston Branch in 2012, and the Brunswick branch in 2016.
According to state records, the library has cut its staff from 74 to 37 over the past five years. But an official at the library said the facility finances have improved and efforts are being made to correct the problems in the audit.