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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Advocates For Rockford Library Say There's Still Time To Save Branches

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
Outside the Rockton Avenue branch.

Some Rockford residents think it’s not too late to stop the Rockford Public Library from closing the books on two west side branches. 


A campaign to save the Rock River and Rockton Centre library branches from permanent closure is underway. Bill Rose, a Rockford alderman, said that closing the branches doesn’t solve the libraries long term financial problems. 

“We know COVID is gonna impact us but we can't be a top community when we're closing libraries,” Rose said.


Lynn Stainbrook is the director of the Rockford Public Library. She said that the library has applied for grants but has been rejected, and she isn’t confident that a grant would make up the million dollar budget shortfall.


But for Sara Dorner, with Rockford United Labor, there’s still hope. The mayor selects the library board, she said, so contact him.


“We're just asking that you please call the mayor of Rockford and ask him to work with the Rockford Public Library board to save our jobs and save our branches,” said Dorner.


The last day for the two full-time and six part-time library workers scheduled for layoff is December 31st. 


  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.
Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.