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Library budget cut 'harsh,' board members say

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Facing another major cut to its budget, Gwinnett County Public Library officials met Friday to discuss how to lobby commissioners to maintain its funding.

Board members discussed making their case for funding during a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, set for public comments on a proposed 2013 government spending plan. The document, which would require a tax increase for many Gwinnettians, would give another $1 million reduction in a subsidy to the library, if approved in January.

After 2010 budget cuts, the library system reduced its hours from 72 hours a week to 43, but Chairwoman Charlotte Nash has asked the board to find the $1 million cut in the system's materials budget instead of another reduction in hours.

"If I don't have the materials, they aren't going to come. ... Then it's not going to matter what hours you have available," said library board member Suzanne Skeen, a media specialist at a local elementary school. "It's like the chicken and the egg."

The library's materials budget is about $3 million a year. Nash pointed out that other library systems have a smaller percentage of their budget devoted to materials, and board member Dick Goodman said the materials level is at the optimum for state standards while hours are at a minimum.

But library officials are concerned that entire collections, like databases and large print materials, may have to be cut if the funding is reduced to 2001 levels, when the system supported 10 branches as opposed to 15 today.

"It is a severe cut. It doesn't reflect a reduction in demand. That's way out of balance with what our customers have said they want," said Deb George, the division director for materials, who said the circulation has dipped 8 to 9 percent with the reduction in hours. "You kind of live and die by circulation."

Based on the dip, the library staff has discussed a possible $300,000 reduction to the materials budget but had hoped to use the funds to find a more balanced approach to the hours, leaders said.

"A million dollars is too harsh for a system trying to meet the demands of Gwinnett," Skeen said of the only notable reduction proposed for any county expense. "It ought to be shared equally."

Comments

WhirledPeas 1 year, 4 months ago

What is "harsh" is an ever increasing tax bill to pay for other people's reading material.

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have". Thomas Jefferson

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Nero_Jr 1 year, 4 months ago

Board member Dick Goodman, the only one who seems to be on board with this nonsense, was also calling for major library cuts during his stint on the Engage Gwinnett committee, and was appointed to his current position by Charlotte Nash herself.

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

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kevin 1 year, 4 months ago

So the library Board says the cuts are too "harsh." I take it that they could care less how harsh property taxes are on the property owners. That doesn't seem to matter to them. They think we have bottomless pockets so the can blow our money away. I think the best solution is to charge the public school kids for use of the system. After all, they already go to school for free on us property owners. If that doesn't sound good, then let's move the library system to another county that does have enough funds for them. But then again, when is enough funds enough? Time to get rid of that whole Board. I do not know what is holding that up. Start scrapping some libraries or charge those that use it.

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Discouraged 1 year, 4 months ago

GCPL is struggling to recover from a budget cut of 15%. The operating hours, staff positions, and benefits have been reduced, talented people are leaving for better opportunities and they are not being replaced. The remaining staff covers the gaps without replacements. This means more work, while not receiving a pay increase for almost 5 years. The vast majority of library users, who are paying just $47 per year for library services based on the County’s on-line calculator for a home assessed at $200,000, do not want library budgets cut or services reduced. How far do you think $47 will go at Amazon? Do you have any idea how many GCPS teachers use the library for materials? How many students? How many job hunters use the computers and job databases? The additional reduction in materials will be harsh for the citizens who need them the most.

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R 1 year, 4 months ago

Sad fact is cuts will come...

We have to adjust locally, unlike those that hang out inside the beltway of DC. This means REDUCING services somewhere and realizing we must think twice BEFORE depending on matching funds from Federal programs.

Besides since the schools are dependent on the library system maybe those Chamber Funds should be redirected now...

How about it? its time to start thinking differently as the Chamber has PRIVATE business members and dues to support operations.

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rco1847 1 year, 4 months ago

Save money - cut the BOC pay. They wasted tens of thousands on Brisco Field studies that told us what we already knew. They lied to us. 3 of 5 member got in trouble with the law along with one of their family members. They gave away tax money to the Chamber of Commerce. They lost our trust.

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Mack711 1 year, 4 months ago

Do not forget about the trash plan and the baseball stadium the we are now stuck with coutresy of the BOC.

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rco1847 1 year, 4 months ago

Oh - they also supported the EZ - Pass roads so we could pay twice for the same road and send a bunch of monney to some crooks to run the thing.

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rco1847 1 year, 4 months ago

BTW - they also tried to shove T-Splost down our throats. Gwinnett Republican Government - Tax and Spend - Tax and Spend - Tax and Spend.

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CapnMack 1 year, 4 months ago

It's a big squishy balloon: You lose a good chunk of your tax digest and you must reallocate things. But if you let things go, the very thing you wanted in the first place (an overall good quality of life) is at stake. Let those players make their decisions, nobody will be happy with them, that's the nature of it. What I'll be waiting for is the investigation by the SEC on those who caused the whole mess which caused this whole mess which of course which will cause the NEXT whole mess. Nobody wants to answer those questions, because they are politically unpleasant. The "buck" must stop somewhere, and that, my friends, is right here.

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SuwaneeMom 1 year, 4 months ago

My kids and I use the libraries extensively to supplement their GCPS curriculum and for entertainment-reading. I don't know of any Gwinnett County department that does more, for more people, with less money, than the Library. BOC, please reconsider making further cuts this valuable service.

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R 1 year, 4 months ago

Dear Mom

Ask your district commissioner to redirect funding from the Chamber until the economy picks up.

We need to begin offering suggestions along with the “don’t cut this service” plea. Engage Gwinnett was GREAT in political cover, but they didn’t find EVERYTHING, not by a long shot… Now it’s OUR turn and duty to do so.

So let’s ask how the commissioners use the reported 150K – 190K EACH to run their separate offices? What does this get us? It may be every dime spent is on the up and up but we won’t know for sure unless we ask…

Why does the Gwinnett Convention and Visitor Bureau ALSO give funds to the Chamber? Can they (GCVB) pick up the slack while the BOC covers the Library?

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D1959 1 year, 4 months ago

Whenever I go to the library, much of the activity is people using the free computers to access personal or social media sites. I find this offensive as a taxpayer. I don't mind paying for materials but the equipment (computers) should be for educational purposes. We could afford a lot more materials if we purchased fewer computers and limited their usage.

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John5214 1 year, 4 months ago

Until everyone deals with the "truth", this and other budget issues will never be resolved. At the risk of being called a few nasty names, let me state the truth. These issues and cuts are a direct result of our illegal immigration issues. We pay for their medical, we pay to educate their children. Our roads get more traffic, our crime is up, our insurance costs increase. All services and benefits are squeezed because of this issue. Why won't you people just admit the real issue and deal with it. Stop being afraid and stop with this PC nonsense and deal with it. And now, we are making our kids pay for it by cutting the library. The library of all things. How stupid is that. I wish some politician would grow a pair and tell the darn truth instead of worrying about the next election or what some PC nerd might say.

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SuxBeanU 1 year, 4 months ago

more short sightedness on the part of our boc when they were flush with cash they went on a building binge with no thought as to how they were going to pay for the day to day operations, now reality hits and they are lost as to what they should do,these clowns were patting each other on the back when gwinnett was named library of the year. now that they can't afford it anymore,The blush is off the rose, maybe they should shut the library system down and go back to being just a hick county near Atlanta, then they can take the money they save an build a new baseball stadium (oh, wait)

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JodyR 1 year, 4 months ago

Check out Patron Profiles In the August/Sept of Library Journal. It even says teens are less likely to even "want" to go to the library anymore. And the truth is the librarians don't have more work to do; very few actually get asked "research" type questions. The majority of the questions are where is the bathroom? How do I get on the internet? How do I print this page? It would be nice if the library ACTUALLY taught computer classes. It is very frustrating as an older woman to always ask a librarian how to do something on the computer. The library is the place where computer classes should be taught.

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CoryLev 1 year, 4 months ago

Why was so much money poured into renovated the Five Forks Library?? Should money be used FIRST to extend the library hours and buy materials. Now there is a sort of nice looking library with fairly bare shelves, and staff that stays in their offices most of the day. Library DVD borrowing has fallen sharply during the past year as library users are moving toward streaming services for both music and movies. A FACT from Library Journal July 2012 issue. People and teens are even saying the library "is less important to them". I wonder if the library directors read any of these issues? With libraries continuously facing strains on their budgets, they NEED to think out of the box. Why are there only book sales online and not in the library? I went to a library in S. Carolina where my cousin works and they have used book sales 4-5 times a year pulling in 1,000 and more for kid's events each time. And how much money and time is wasted by allowing out-of-county residents use the computers?? the libraries should strictly be used for Gwinnett county residents or a person needs to buy an out-of-county library card to even use the computer. Stop this nonsense of free computer passes! Many libraries do this around the country and it is about time it is done here also.

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knwhite 1 year, 4 months ago

SPLOST money - very different from operating budgets. SPLOST must be used for what the voters voted on and cannot be redirected to operations.

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knwhite 1 year, 4 months ago

Regarding the Used book sales, if you request the records for when the library sold the books vs the online sales, you will find that the online sales are generating a lot more money than the inhouse sales. You are talking about $15K a year in book sales vs the $4-5K you say S. Carolina makes. Plus, did S. Carolina include the cost of employees getting the sales ready? If not, then they are not really making that much money.

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Kent 1 year, 4 months ago

The BOC has allowed libraries to be overbuilt, which translates into vote buying. They assured the short sighted voters that the almost free SPLOST money would pay the tab. Now the taxpayers are saddled with the eternal maintenance and staffing costs of too many libraries. These board members need to get a grip and stop coming to the taxpayer trough. Deb obviously thinks she has to furnish everything her customers demand. Hey there Deb, how about you writing a check to satisfy your customers. It is so easy to spend other peoples money for stuff you think they need. According to Deb, I bet if she has a son, and the little tyke wants a Lamborghini, then it should be provided. And she will--as long as she can use your money to purchase it.

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Sonoma 1 year, 4 months ago

STOP letting people outside of the county use the computers for free! If one has to have a library card to check out books, even from out-of-county, then one should also have a library card to use the computer. Sounds simple. But the library system has done nothing over the past few years to deserve continued funding? Having fashion shows with librarians wearing shredded books? A disastrous soap opera book signing, having to pull religious artwork on display in a library because they are offending people.
Kent is right; we are overfunding too many libraries. Norcross is a few miles away from the Peachtree Corners branch. Suwanee is a couple of miles away from the Buford branch. Consolidate and close a couple of libraries and the library system will save millions.

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Dickens 1 year, 4 months ago

I just saw in the AJC vent a few days ago someone wishing that Santa would bring smiles to the Gwinnett librarians. It's true; they do not smile. And it's not because of the funding. It's because they are dictated everything single thing to do. A librarian can't even do a story time; someone is brought in to do it for them. My favorite librarian was in tears at the Suwanee library because she says her manager always stays in the office, rewrites everyone goals and expectations to what she wants and not what they would like to learn, and basically has no clue of how to help when it is busy at the library. What's worse is that they move people around to other libraries whenever they want. One person was at the same library for 10 years and all of a sudden her "talents" were needed at another branch. What B.S. It's all politics with the same good ole girls as directors. They need to clean house and clean house now.

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John_Smith 1 year, 4 months ago

Why the hell do we even need libraries anymore? Shut them all down and either cut taxes with the money being saved or do something USEFUL with the money.

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