Chattanooga City Council members discussed Tuesday the possible effects a new public library branch in the Avondale Youth and Family Development Center may have.

The Chattanooga Public Library requested $340,000 to accommodate the new branch, which will take up about 2,000 square feet of the newly renovated center and will provide materials and programming to community members.

During a Tuesday meeting, District 8 City Councilman Anthony Byrd passed on questions and concerns his constituents—who come, in part, from the Avondale community—to the Chattanooga Public Library Director Corinne Hill.

Byrd said some of his constituents are wary of the reasoning behind the library’s new presence and thought that this may be a way of keeping Avondale children out of the library downtown. He also mentioned that a few were worried that the library may not take the community’s actual needs into account before bringing in new programming.

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“When you go into the community, a lot of times that community feels like you come in and tell them what [they] need and ‘This is how it should be done,'” Byrd said. 

Hill said that she understood the concerns, but that the library intends on working closely with Avondale residents.

“I think that what we have perhaps is some feelings that have been hurt [in the past], but I think that what we’re doing is a really, really good thing,” she said. “I think conversations are needed and I’m more than happy to do that.”

District 9 City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod followed up the questioning by saying that she is always surprised by what people in District 8 say they don’t want.

“These are the things we keep asking for; reading is very important,” Coonrod said. “Sometimes communities, they get so riled up [about gentrification in the recreation centers], but a majority of those people don’t even go to the recreation centers. So we have to get out of that mindset of what is hindering our communities [and look at] what is helping our communities.”

Renovations on the Avondale YFD Center are slated to finish in early 2019.

Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She is a graduate of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in political science. Alina has over three years of journalism experience including time spent with CNN and 2nd & Church, a magazine based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah

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