By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Neil Wetherbee said he never saw that many people at a Town Council meeting.
In his five years on the council, Wetherbee said nothing compared to last week when parents, children and other residents filled the meeting room to voice their support for Taylor Library.
Children came in pajamas, holding handmade signs urging town officials to save the library. People spoke for more than an hour during the meeting’s public forum.
They were all hoping Town Administrator John Anderson’s budget recommendation to zero fund the tiny East Derry library would not happen.
“I’ve never seen a public outpouring (like this) on any issue before,” Wetherbee said.
Since Anderson announced his recommendation to eliminate Taylor’s proposed $176,600 budget for next year, support for the library has blossomed with petition drives and many outspoken patrons hoping the doors will stay open.
Taylor Library officials are scheduled to appear before Town Council on April 30 for budget review work.
Until then, Wetherbee offered another option last week.
“I don’t think there is a consensus to close the Taylor Library on the Town Council,” he told those in attendance. “I would ask we alleviate your fears tonight.”
One by one, councilors voiced support following Wetherbee’s challenge.
“I would not support closing this library,” Councilor Brad Benson said.
Councilor Phyllis Katsakiories offer to support the library “100 percent,” as did new Councilors Tom Cardon and Al Dimmock.
“I’m a grandfather, I love children, the people here made me decide,” Dimmock said. “No way will I vote to close Taylor Library.”
But Councilor Mark Osborne said he needed more time to decide.
“I just want to hear both sides of the issue,” Osborne said. “I think we owe it to John Anderson to hear the other side of the coin.”
He added he would love to see the council chambers filled for other town issues.
Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks said he hadn’t made a decision yet.
But having five of the seven councilors support the library remaining open offered library staff members some relief.
“We are thrilled,” library director Linda Merrill said.
Most people who spoke last week said Taylor filled a niche in the community. Activities and events attract hundreds of children and families.
Suzanne Mitchell teaches at Nutfield Cooperative School in East Derry. The preschool is in First Parish Church, right next door to Taylor Library.
“We walk there for field trips and we are always greeted at the door by Linda Merrill,” Mitchell said.
Brenda Willis said Taylor Library was the first place she went after her son was born 30 years ago.
“It’s a great place for children and adults,” she said.
Cecile Cormier told councilors the library was also cost effective since thousands of dollars in energy upgrades were just completed a short time ago.
“The staff, they do a fantastic job,” Cormier said. “I think it’s a good library and it has that homey feeling. It’s like that show ‘Cheers’ when everybody knows your name, that’s the feeling you get.”