By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Nobody’s closing the book on Taylor Library.
Town councilors voted, 5-2, Tuesday to approve the 135-year-old library’s $176,600 budget for next year. The decision came after the community turned out in force during budget talks to save the East Derry library.
Councilors held the fate of the historic library in their hands after Town Administrator John Anderson proposed zero funding it for the upcoming fiscal year. Anderson said nearby Derry Public Library could absorb Taylor’s patrons and programs.
“We all feel libraries are important; I’ve always supported libraries,” Anderson said. “This particular library strikes me as a unique library that (possibly) could be funded privately.”
He cited other buildings where residents and supporters took on the funding and support of buildings, including the Upper Village Hall.
When times are tough, he said, tough decisions must be made.
Taylor’s proposed annual budget is $176,000, compared to $1.3 million for Derry Public Library.
“I would much sooner close a 1,000-square-foot library than lay off (police or fire) officials,” Anderson said.
That didn’t sit well with fans of the small, but busy library.
During the last few weeks, children appeared before councilors and told them what the library meant to them.
Anderson pointed out that previous town administrations had explored the possibility of merging the Taylor and Derry public libraries.
“It’s been eight years from the original charge to have a joint services library plan,” Anderson said. “And we have nothing today.”
Taylor Library trustee Candace Andrews said both libraries historically have been solid partners in town.
“We thought together we complemented each other,” she said.
Councilor Neil Wetherbee said a merger could even cost more, especially when it came to sharing technology.
“It didn’t seem like such a feasible thing,” he said.
In the end, five of seven council members supported continuing to fund Taylor Library. Councilors Michael Fairbanks and Mark Osborne voting against.
“Thank you for listening to all our patrons a few weeks ago,” Taylor director Linda Merrill said following the vote. “The children especially want to thank you for listening to them. It meant a lot to them.”
Taylor Library first opened its doors in 1878 in a space at the historic Upper Village Hall, thanks to a $1,000 bequest from Harriet Taylor. Her sister, Emma, later donated another $1,000 to support the library.
The library eventually moved across the street to its current location.