GRAYSON -- The Gwinnett County Library System has initiated a six-point program strategy to combat budget cuts by increasing non-tax revenues, the chairman of the county library board told the Grayson City Council on Monday night.
Phillip Saxton said the system has been cut about $2.8 million, bringing their funding down to $16 million.
"We're visiting all the cities, and telling them what's going on in the library system," he said. "Our plans are to increase our non-tax revenues, and we're asking the county government to please not cut us anymore."
Saxton outlined these six strategies:
Increase advertising from local businesses by selling advertising space, including coupons, to be placed on bookmarks in the libraries. Businesses will pay a fee, which Saxton hopes will raise about $1.2 million as 5,000 bookmarks will be given out weekly.
Continue with affiliate programs, such as the partnership with Amazon.com. When a patron clicks on the library's website (www.gwinnettpl.org), and buys an item from the Amazon link, the library system gets a fee. This program has already raised $1,800 without being announced.
Donating money. Patrons are asked to donate extra change when paying a library fine, and plans are to urge people to donate money through the purchase of greeting cards from the libraries.
Increasing the endowment fund from the present $250,000 to $25 million in the next 15 years. A new endowment fund board is being formed, and it's hoped that 1,500 county residents will be part of the effort by donating as little as $100.
Fundraising. Businesses or nonprofit organizations are asked to split proceeds with the libraries on fund-raising activities.
Help is needed to cover costs of the $3.5 million materials budget, which has been lowered by half a million dollars. This program offers specialists, such as doctors, engineers, etc., to present programs on their real-world experiences using books they purchase from the library.
"We would like to manage the libraries with the funds we have," Saxton said. "Our ultimate goal is to raise $4 million."
The library system, which welcomes about 3 million visitors per year, has had to reduce its hours to 44 per week because of budget cuts, but still stays open seven days a week. About 1,000 patrons come to each library every day.
According to Saxton, the system helps more people find jobs than all other programs combined, helping with resume writing and computer searches since most applications are now done online.
About 7.4 million items are checked out each year, including printed books, tapes, and now, the library system is offering free electronic books which can be loaned out over a two-week period fromAmazon.com. Book files can be downloaded to an electronic reading device using the library's computer software.
"The budget for e-books has to go up, and we need to continue to invest in e-books," Saxton said.
In other business, Mayor Jim Hinkle announced that the Veteran's Day Program will be held at the Grayson United Methodist Church from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 11.