Proposed license plate helps libraries

ATLANTA - The Department of Motor Vehicles is offering a license plate that honors Georgia's public libraries and puts books on those shelves, too.

From each tag's $20 annual renewal fee, $10 will be used to buy books for public libraries statewide.

But the DMV must have 1,000 applications for the library tag by Dec. 31, 2008, or the idea will be scrapped.

To date, the DMV has received 24 applications for the library tag.

Impact fees, one-cent sales tax money and other revenue sources help Georgia build new library buildings, but those monies don't pay to stock the shelves.

Braselton's one-year-old library still has plenty of empty shelf space, said Librarian Bev Adkins.

"We always need new books," Adkins said. "We got one back today that the spine was split, it had gotten wet. There is a cost of doing business. We put a DVD on the shelf and go to check it out and, lo and behold, the case is empty. Libraries cost money, we don't make money, so any help we can get with which to purchase new books is very helpful."

Auburn's new library opened Oct. 20. It relied on donations from the city, Barrow County and local folks to get books and media inside. Still, keeping current material is a challenge, said Librarian Kitty McKean.

"We have really been fortunate in that the city gave us $75,000 toward new books, the county gave us $10,000 and we got $6,800 in donations," McKean said. "Our shelves still look empty. Things go out of date, particularly medical information."

Drivers can apply for the special library license plate sporting the Georgia Center for the Book logo at any local tag office for a $25 application/manufacturing fee. There is no on-line application process.

The plate will be produced once the DMV gets the required 1,000 applications. The next time a driver's tag comes up for regular renewal, that driver will be assessed an annual special interest tag fee of $25 in addition to the regular $20 tag fee, and the plate will be sent to them.

The plate will always be available. Production will not expire.

Rep Billy Horne, R-Newnan, introduced the bill to the legislature.

"I got involved because I heard a statistic that prison systems look at third-grade reading scores to predict how many beds they will need in the future," Horne said. "We have to get kids reading at a third-grade level by supporting literacy and library programs. They will be more apt to read if they have a good public library available. It is alarming how many people in Georgia can't read."

The Georgia Center for the Book logo, that appears on the plates, was created by Ruby Mason, a former member of the DeKalb County Public Library staff.

Information on the library plate can be found at http://motor .etax.dor.ga.gov/motor/plates/plate.asp?ptitle=GC.

A copy of the special interest application form is available at http://motor.etax.dor.ga.gov/forms/pdf/motor/MV_Special_Interest_License_Plate_Application.pdf. Check the Georgia Center for the Book box.