Memphians hope extended library hours bring change to community

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.-- It takes more than police officers to reduce crime.

In 2016, Memphis hit a record for the number of homicides in a year reaching 228 and too much of that violent crime has trickled down into the lives of our youth.

According to statistics from the Shelby County Juvenile Court, the number of children in detention, under the age of 18, has dramatically fallen over the last 10 years, but just one locked up is one too many.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said one of the hallmarks of his budget proposal is providing more opportunities for youth.

Starting this summer, 10 library locations that are closed on Fridays will be open and hours expanded.

City public libraries are considered a "Safe Place" in the Memphis community.

"By being open on Friday, because if it`s not open on Friday a lot of places you have to go far out and a lot of people can`t make it far out," said Curtis Lucas.

Lucas frequently takes his child to the Frayser Library, now dark on Fridays.

WREG's Shay Arthur asked him, "Do you think people will really go to the library on Friday?"

"Some of them, some of them. I mean it`s up to the parents too. The parents got to be involved too," he explained.

"We get so many concerns and requests from people asking us, begging us to increase our hours," said Director of Libraries Keenon McCloy.

Libraries will also be open an hour later.

24-year-old Raymond Brooks writes music and reads at the Hollywood Library two to three times a week.

He said the fact the libraries are open longer won`t necessarily stop crime.

"That all depends on the type of person you are," said Brooks.

But he does believe it will give children an outlet to make smarter choices earlier.

"For some people it will keep them in a challenged place. They got something to play with on the computer, for wrong people it will keep them out the streets or whatever and then just being in the hood, being in north Memphis," he explained.

The cost to implement the plan will be almost $500,000.

Lucas said if you compare that to how much a homicide costs to investigate, prosecute and the emotional toll it takes on families and communities, he believes it`s an investment that could make a difference.

"It's not just for the kids, it's for everybody," he said with a smile.

There are an abundance of programs the library offers. For more information, click here.

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