Citizens Voice Support For Saving Gulfport Library

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Harrison County supervisors added fuel to the Gulfport library debate this week.

The board voted to send a "letter of objection" to the Department of Archives and History, which is considering whether the storm damaged library should be declared a "Mississippi landmark."

There is much public sentiment over the library.

That's largely because thousands of Gulfport residents have a personal, emotional attachment to the 43-year-old building. Whether they like the architecture or not, it's still the place where so many people learned to read or took their kids to summer reading programs.

The storm battered building sits vacant on a prime piece of downtown property. The familiar greenish structure that once featured a fish pond at the front door, is now home to the occasional pigeon.

But as books and summer reading programs become a more distant memory, that's exactly what many folks recall.

"As a child I used to go there. My mother and father would take me there. That's where I learned to read. So, yeah a lot of special memories," said one Gulfport man, who added, "I just hate to see us lose all our history. It's easy to tear things down. A lot harder to save 'em."

"I think it's wonderful that they want to save the library building, because how many landmarks do we have in Gulfport? And we have memories of growing up, going to the library in high school, then taking my children there every summer for the reading program," said another longtime Gulfport resident.

"The building probably should be saved. I can't make the call whether or not it should be used as a library," said a Biloxi resident, who said he visited the Gulfport library on occasion.

Our informal survey found lots of support for saving the library. But one man did share the supervisors' concerns about spending lots of public money on the site.

"Well, it's a nice building. The way it was constructed and everything. But what's best for the public? If it needs to be moved, save money and for future storms, I don't have no problem with it," he explained.

Many people we talked with have fond memories of coming to the library when they were young, or bringing their children or grand children there. Many also expressed strong feelings about saving a piece of history; especially since Katrina took away so much.

"That's a landmark. They've got to leave it there," said one elderly woman, "Yes, save it. By all means."

"I love the old library. And I think we should try and preserve and save what few things we have left," said another man, "We need all the old landmarks we can save."