Libraries May Close in Steinbeck's Hometown

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Budget woes may force three public libraries in Salinas — including one named after Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author John Steinbeck (search) — to close the books and lock up for good.

In December, faced with record deficits, the council voted to close the populous city’s three public branches. Residents must raise $500,000 by the end of June to keep the libraries open.

Many people, including actor Bill Murray (search), who contributed $12,000 he made at a recent celebrity golf tournament, have pitched in. Donations have reached almost $200,000.

Businesses and local schools are active in raising money for the literary cause. And the city's mayor said no helping hand is too small.

"We have elementary school children that are raising pennies and putting them in jars. ... We have one elementary school that asked their parents to help contribute as well," said Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero (search). "We have a young girl selling lemonade."

If raised, the half-million dollars will keep the libraries open two days a week through the end of the year.

By that time, the city hopes voters will have approved a tax hike to provide a permanent budget for the libraries.

Click on the video box above for a complete report by Fox News' Claudia Cowan.