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Library officials seek input about future branches

LAWRENCEVILLE - The future of Gwinnett's library system is in the hands of its residents.

Officials last week opened discussions about the placement of future branches to the public with several public hearings, and more are scheduled for next week.

Community Services Director Phil Hoskins said county commissioners asked for the study.

"It's one of the pieces of the puzzle they want to consider for the next SPLOST," he said, referring to an extension to the special purpose local option sales tax, which will likely be considered by voters in 2008. "The tough decision, in the end, will be putting together some kind of priority list."

The past two cycles of the sales tax have funded branches in Suwanee, Dacula and Grayson as well as a facility scheduled for construction in the Hamilton Mill area and land for a branch in the Peachtree Ridge area.

But after those last branches are built, officials do not have a plan for the future, Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam said. The plan could include new branches in growing areas or expansions and redesigns of current buildings.

"Up until now, we've only had new buildings, but some of our buildings are going on 20 years old," she said. "We have some ideas, but we don't know. We're open to suggestions from the public."

Meetings are scheduled for Tuesday at the Centerville Community Center and Thursday, at the Five Forks library branch. Both are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

While only two residents have appeared at the last three information sessions, officials are planning an online survey to get more response from the community. The survey will be linked from the system's Web site at www.gwinnettpl.org next week, officials said.

"So many of our customers are online customers, so we know that will garner some input," Stanbery-Kellam said.