Library board approves $1.4M budget cut

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

LAWRENCEVILLE — In line with budget cuts passed by the county’s commissioners, Gwinnett County Public Library board members approved Tuesday a $1.4 million decrease in the system’s budget for the first half of 2011.

GCPL executive director Nancy Stanberry-Keller said the process of finding places to cut was a “moving target” and a “work in progress,” but hoped she would have specific proposals for the board at its meeting.

Board chair Phyllis Oxendine stressed the need to make any changes uniform for all branches. Branch closings and layoffs, she said, should not be an option.

“Before we even discuss that we will cut the budget to the bone,” Oxendine said.

The Gwinnett County Commission voted earlier this month to cut library spending by $2.8 million — or 15 percent — under its 2011 budget. The decrease in spending approved by the library board Tuesday covers that cut through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Budget cuts forced the library system to cut service hours from 71 per week to 43 in 2009 before the board voted to bump hours back up to 53 last March.

While the necessary adjustments are yet to be determined, Oxendine again stressed that closings or layoffs at any of GCPL’s 15 branches would be a last resort.

“I know we’re going to need to take big cuts, and what we need to remember is it’s going to be across the board,” Oxendine said. “There will be no branches closing. We will operate all of our branches like every other branch.”

In other business, a quick election renamed Oxendine board chair Tuesday. New board member Betty Atkinson, who was appointed by Commissioner John Heard, was voted treasurer.

GCPL also announced the arrival of 30 new Barnes and Noble Nook eReaders available for public consumption. Two of the eReaders will be available at each branch beginning in February, Deputy Director Liz Forster said.