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Internet use will be free at libraries

LAWRENCEVILLE -- During a special called meeting Wednesday, the Gwinnett County Public Library Board of Trustees Executive Committee announced that it will scrap proposed revisions regarding fee-based services and library cards.

The revisions were scheduled to become effective Feb. 1.

On Dec. 7, policy changes were proposed that would require library customers wishing to use the facility's computers to have a valid library card or be subject to a fee.

In a release issued Wednesday, Division Director Jane Walters said many Georgia libraries hoping to increase revenue planned to do so by charging non-members for Internet access.

In keeping with last week's notice to library directors from the Georgia Public Library Service, Walters reiterated that libraries participating in the federal E-rate program are "prohibited from charging in any way for Internet use."

The Gwinnett library system has been approved for $217,979 in E-rate funding for fiscal year 2010.

According to the Web site of the Universal Service Administrative Company, which provides telecommunication and Internet discounts for most schools and libraries in the country, E-rate is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.

Gwinnett County library branches are receiving a 60 percent discount.

"Rather than jeopardize the library's E-rate funding, the library will change the newly revised policies," Walters said.