It's not easy to do, but sometimes reversing your course of action can be the best decision. That's why the Library Board deserves credit for listening to Gwinnett County residents and deciding this week to keep all Gwinnett branches open at reduced hours.
Library officials called the new plan of keeping all branches open and reducing their hours to 35 a week the most "equitable." We agree, the current plan making more sense than making some communities do without a full-service library.
In August, due to budget concerns, the board voted to close the Dacula branch to move staff and open a new branch in the Hamilton Mill community. That decision was met with a backlash, as Dacula residents joined forces to protest the move.
That led the board to adopt a different plan, a regional approach with three branches becoming regional hubs and three converting to computer labs. That plan was not well-received either, with county commissioners and legislators weighing in, threatening to drop more funding.
This week, the board voted to keep all libraries open. While the latest plan is not perfect - service hours will be cut and the move will cause staff furloughs - it is the fairest, or in the board's word, most "equitable" - solution to the problem. Library Board Chairwoman Phyllis Oxendine said it best: "No matter where you live in the county, you deserve the same service as anyone else in the county."
Dacula Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks was pleased with the decision, but unhappy with what transpired before it was made. "We shouldn't have had to go through all this folderol to get the most equitable solution in these economic times."
Wilbanks' sentiments are understandable and likely echoed by Dacula residents. But it's not every day that an unpopular plan is overturned. Often heels are dug in, lines are drawn and the original decision stuck to no matter what.
That didn't happen in this case. And the Library Board deserves some credit for reversing itself and making the right call.
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