Budget cuts force libraries to close on Sundays, Mondays

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County Public Library hours will be cut and programs will be reduced, as the county faces critical budget issues in the dwindling economy.

Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, director of the 14-branch system, posted a letter on the library's Web site Tuesday announcing the cuts, which include closing the branches on Sundays and Mondays.

"Regretfully, our customers will be impacted by these changes," the letter states. "Branches will be open fewer days and hours, and when they are open, they will be operating with reduced staff. There will be less programming, fewer titles from which to choose, and materials will not be shelved or placed on hold as quickly as customers expect."

Other changes, which will be implemented Aug. 9, include an 8 percent reduction to the materials budget, the cutting of security officers and shelvers and the suspension of October's planned Gwinnett Reading Festival.

Including a hiring freeze implemented during the last fiscal year, the measures will save nearly $1.7 million - a budget reduction of 7 percent to be achieved by Sept. 30, library spokeswoman Michelle Long said.

The cuts are a result of budget reductions by Gwinnett County's government, Stanbery-Kellam said in the letter. While the state provides some funding to the system, 85 percent of the funding comes from the county.

During recent months, the library has been busier than ever, with program attendance increasing 30 percent, Long said. But the budget cuts became imminent last month when commissioners voted against a proposed tax increase and instead said they favored cost-savings. Last month, commissioners also voted to postpone the opening of the library system's 15th branch, currently under construction in the Hamilton Mill area.

"We have been have been incredibly honored by the support from this community, and we'll do the very best we can to continue to provide the best service we can," Long said.

SideBar: New library hours

The following schedule will be the hours for the Gwinnett County Public Library's 14 branches, beginning Aug. 9.

Sunday: closed

Monday: closed

Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.