Batavia residents fighting to keep library

BATAVIA, OH (FOX19) - Batavia residents are fighting to keep their library branch open in their community.

In October, the board of trustees for the Clermont County Public Library recommended merging the Batavia branch with the Owensville branch. That suggestion hasn't been sitting well with some residents.

The Batavia Library has been in this community for nearly 60 years. The Library Board of Trustees said it's time for some major upgrades, but it comes at a major cost. The trustees said the best option may be to close the Batavia location.

On Monday night there was a full house at the Clermont County Library Board meeting at the Union Township Branch Library. Those in attendance gave the board members an earful on why the Batavia branch should stay put and not consolidate with the Owensville branch.

"It's not an easy access for a lot of people," said Tom Conover, the president of the Genealogical Society.

"This would be ground breaking to close a branch in county. I would just ask you guys to strongly reconsider what you're thinking about," said Brian Vickers who is a Batavia Council Member.

Currently the Clermont County Library Board is considering what they can do to stay in within budget while making improvements to the Batavia branch.

"We recently looked at the cost of what it would be to expand that branch and when we looked at it we began to realize it would be significantly more than what we expected," said Joe Braun. He is the president of the Clermont County Library Board.

Braun said the expansion would cost more than $600,000.

In an effort to offer more services and save money the Board recommended closing the Batavia branch and putting those resources into the Owensville Branch.

However, residents said that would be a devastation to the area.

"The times I do go into the library. I see that the internet is used often. It's helpful for looking for jobs, finding daycare a lot of people use it just for school as a resource because not everyone can afford to have a computer in their home. It's a great loss," said Melissa Burke, who is a Batavia resident.

"The biggest concerns residents have expressed to us is that they want to have walkability. There's 1,500 residents living in downtown Batavia and they indicated to us that the ability to walk to the library is a priority to them," said Braun.

If the Batavia library were to close, the nearest library would be 12 miles away. Braun said they are looking into other options including reviewing different sites were the library could be moved in Batavia.

The library board is currently looking at three different sites in Batavia. They said they will continue to study the issue before making a final decision. They haven't said when the decision will be made.

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