JACKSONVILLE — Hawk Starkey has set up shop in front the Jacksonville library's locked door, just outside the empty study room where he used to tutor young students every week.
Starkey, a retired teacher and behavioral therapist, has decided to continue working with his students at the $1.3 million library, and the front steps have proven just a good a place as any, he said.
"We have found some distractions, the wind being one of the them," Starkey said. "The study room was nice and quiet."
Starkey has tutored at the library for the past three years, he said.
He spent Tuesday afternoon studying tall tales from a reading workbook with 10-year-old Connor Lane. A week ago, had the two come across an idea that sparked their interest, they would've had the library's reference books handy for additional research. Not now.
"We constantly used the encyclopedias," Starkey said. "It would be helpful to have them now. And I can't lug a set around with me every where I go."
Since the county's libraries closed Friday because of the loss of federal timber funds, Starkey has plunked his makeshift desk on the steps of the five-year-old library as a show of support.
"It's not a protest," he said. "But if we can make people see the need for these learning institutions, that's fine."
Arlynda Lane, Connor's mother, said that only now — after the closures — are people going to realize how useful the libraries were.
"As (Connor's) gone up in grade levels, we have found the libraries to be invaluable," she said.
Starkey considered moving to local restaurants, but they can be distracting places, he said. And though the library steps were a bit chilly Tuesday, the space should be comfortable this summer.
Nevertheless, it would be nice to actually work inside the library, Starkey said. "I'd like to have a quiet place for the kids."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail email@example.com.