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Kids DVDs going back on shelves

LAWRENCEVILLE - Children's DVDs will be back on library shelves soon, after administrators devised a plan to keep the actual discs under lock and key to deter theft.

According to a report given to the Library Board on Monday, the Gwinnett Public Library system will buy media storage cases for its 14 branches.

The jewel cases will be on display for browsing for the first time since last November, when the board voted to place the DVDs behind the shelves and allow people to reserve discs at only the Centerville branch.

In September 2005, the board voted to sell the items after about half of the system's 20,000 DVDs had been stolen.

A committee of library staffers explored ways to protect the items, but security systems on the market could not handle Gwinnett's load, Elisa Kadish said.

So in the spring, when the equipment comes in, librarians will lock the discs in the media case, but display the jewel cases for customers to browse.

Customers will take the case to the check-out counter, and then bring the case and the receipt to a librarian before the disc is given.

"It sounds like an excellent solution to the problem that keeps customers and staff in mind," board Vice-chairwoman Phyllis Oxendine said.

Online book sales

During Monday's meeting, the board was also briefed on the findings of a study in the library's relationship with the Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia.

While an agreement with Better World Books to sell used library books and distribute the money between the library and an account with the foundation is legal, interim library Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam said administrators were able to work out a better deal.

The Better World Books policy is to pay the system 25 percent of its proceeds, then pay a nonprofit literacy organization 15 percent. But because the library itself is a nonprofit devoted to literacy, the county was able to negotiate that 35 percent of the sales go directly to the library and 5 percent go to a special fund within the library for literacy programs.

Stanbery-Kellam said the vendor also agreed to give Gwinnett residents the option to buy the used books first through an online sidewalk sale before they are opened up to international customers.

"I think that would make the community happier to be able to buy the books," board member Dale Todd said. "I like the fact that we're getting the money back. We can use it."

Stanbery-Kellam said the online vendor has the best return on the money and the county has received $48,000 for the books, compared to a $5,100 profit when the system sold its used books at Discover Mills mall.

The staff will continue to research to decide if the community foundation is the best one to hold an account with, she said.

Also Monday:

• The board set a meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 22 to discuss the hiring of a new director. Stanbery-Kellam is expected to win the position, since the only other person interviewed has accepted the position of head of the Piedmont Library system.

• The director said a situation with large, unruly groups of teenagers congregating at the Dacula branch every afternoon may have reached a turning point. The county has hired a second officer to monitor the kids' activities inside and outside the building, and an open dialogue with the school system and police enabled officials to prevent an expected altercation.