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Fort Worth residents share what Central Library means to them on its last day of service

June 30,2023

See full Fort Worth Report article by Cristian ArguetaSoto and Emily Wolf here.

The Fort Worth Central Library closed its doors for the final time at 6 p.m. June 30, capping off a 35-year stint as the public library system’s crowning jewel. 

Residents trickled in and out of the library on its last day open to the public. Some came with their family members to say a final goodbye; others came to visit for the first time. The Fort Worth Report gathered their stories below.

‘A library is part of a community’

For the last time, Melissa Konur, an urban planner, and her children Dylan, 15, and Oliver Konur, 12, visited the library.

Melissa frequented the Central Library for about 15 years since Dylan was a baby, she said.

“I think libraries are so critical to communities,” she said. “I read a lot, the kids read a lot, so we would come and check out books. They had story times here sometimes, and we would come to those.”

Melissa said they would go to the Central Library to get passports, too. 

“I think a library is part of a community and offers people access to information that they don't have and should be available to anyone. So to lose this space as an asset for learning and for furthering your mind in a downtown environment where we've experienced a lot of growth is sad to me,” Melissa said. “So I hope that the library itself is able to reestablish a presence downtown.”

Charmaine Clarke, 63, visits the Fort Worth Central Library for the first time on the last day of service in downtown Fort Worth. Clarke is a teacher in Qatar and said she hates when libraries close. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

‘I hate it when libraries close’

On the Central Library’s last day, a visitor from across the ocean came to send it off. Charmaine Clarke, 63, visited the Central Library after reading about its impending closure in the local news. 

Clarke is originally from Bristol, England, and is currently a teacher in Qatar. She came to Fort Worth to meet up with her long-distance partner, who joined her in checking out the library.

“I hate it when libraries close,” she said. “It’s a heartfelt loss to the community.”

Clarke said parts of the architecture of the Central Library reminded her of the library she grew up frequenting in Bristol. She said she’s glad she was able to see it before it closed.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” she said.  

Joceline Silva, left, and her four-year-old son Jonathan make arts and crafts at the Central Library on June 30. Silva grew up going to the downtown library, she said. ‘I'm sad to say that when it's closing time, I bring my son for the first time,” she said. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

‘The only reason why we would come to downtown would be to come to the library’

Born and raised in Fort Worth, resident Joceline Silva, 27, returned to the Central Library with her 4-year-old son one last time for old time’s sake.

Silva and her family hardly made their way to downtown from west Fort Worth when she was growing up, she said.

“Coming to downtown was like, ‘Wow, I'm coming to downtown. This is cool,’” Silva said. “The only reason why we would come to downtown would be to come to the library. That was always a special moment for me and my family members.”

Silva and her son, Jonathan, don’t visit the Central Library anymore, but when she heard it would be shut down a few days ago, she made it a mission to show him the space once before its doors permanently shut.

“I grew up here and there's so many memories here. It's sad is what it is,” Silva said.

Her son has had speech delays so she was planning on visiting libraries more often so he could get the reading practice in, she said. He prefers dinosaurs, Dr. Seuss and typical boy books, she said.

‘I'm sad to say that when it's closing time, I bring my son for the first time,” she said.

 ‘It breaks my heart a little’

Jean Fargo, 67, moved to Fort Worth eight months ago. A retired public librarian, Fargo said she’s spent more time at the Central Library since moving than anywhere else in the city. 

“I think people know libraries are for everyone,” she said. “Libraries are the most democratic institution there is.”

She’s sad to see the Central Library close its doors for good, but understands the reasoning behind it. While the big building might have worked in the 90s and early 2000s, she said, now that so many reference materials are electronic, it makes sense to downsize. 

Fargo wants the next downtown library location to continue its focus on hands-on programming and internet access. Since moving to Fort Worth, she’s attended several public workshops at the Central Library, including one on candle-making and another that taught her to make a wreath out of discarded books. 

“It’s important that they continue community outreach (at the new location),” she said. 

As Fargo made her final rounds of the library, she stopped periodically to take pictures of the remaining art on the walls. Even knowing that a new library will be opened downtown, she can’t help but feel sad that the beautiful building on West Third Street will soon be no longer. 

“It breaks my heart a little,” she said. 

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This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Location Mentioned: Central Library