MLK community seeks library options

More than two dozen community leaders from various businesses, churches and civic groups in Hilltop gathered last week to brainstorm how to provide books and literacy programs to the neighborhood’s children in the wake of the Martin Luther King Jr. library branch’s closure two years ago.

More community meetings are in the works, but this first meeting marked the beginning of the journey ahead.

“It was a great meeting of community leaders,” organizer Al Nurse said. “We were able to tap into some great resources.”

The community has lacked a library since the Martin Luther King Jr. branch of the Tacoma Public Library at 19th and Cedar was sold to a medical center in 2012. The closest branch now is the Main Library in downtown, which would require children to walk along busy streets and run the gauntlet of homeless people that often congregate outside its doors.

“It’s more than just about the books,” Nurse said. “It’s about the reading comprehension and the literacy programs too. A library is an essential part of a community. When you don’t have a library, you are telling kids that they don’t matter.”

Ideally, the current effort would like to have the return of a library and its educational programs, specifically for early readers from kindergarten to third grade. But with library budgets being what they are these days, all sorts of options are being examined to provide educational programming, resources, computers and reading materials to the youth in the Hilltop.

“We are open to any suggestions,” Nurse said. “It might not be a brick-and-mortar library.”

The effort could begin as a lending library with donated books as a way to provide the foundation of things to come and add literacy programs as volunteers step up and other resources are found and added.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Peace Lutheran Church, 2106 S. Cushman, with a third meeting planned for 6 p.m. on March 6 at the Hilltop Regional Health Center, 1202 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. A spaghetti dinner will be provided at both events.

For further information, contact Bil Moss (253) at 759-1437 or Al Nurse at (253) 307-1660.

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