LAWRENCEVILLE -- Interested in checking out a book as easily as getting a movie out of the vending machines all over Gwinnett?
That will soon be possible with 24-hour-a-day check-out from a selection at a vending machine at the Five Forks library branch, which is expected to reopen next month after a renovations project.
The new technology, which could soon spread to other branch locations, is one of many money-saving measures library officials talked about Monday, during a budget session with officials.
Because of dwindling tax funds, the library system has cut from 71 hours a week to 44 hours a week at its 15 branches, and staff has decreased by more than 10 percent, Director Nancy Stanbery-Kellam said during her presentation.
But the demands for services have caused the system to look for other ways to provide resources to residents.
Now, 93 percent of check-outs are self check-outs and programs are being scrutinized.
While hoping to receive the same $16 million level of funding from Gwinnett in 2013, which combines with state funding to make up the majority of the budget, Stanbery-Kellam said the system has plans for some cuts.
The biggest comes from a reduction of hours for part-timers from 20 per week to 17, cutting the staffers from benefits, which will save $1 million in three years. Nineteen full-time positions, which have been held vacant, will be eliminated.
Phillip Saxton, the chairman of the library board, told the review group, which consists of Chairwoman Charlotte Nash and six residents, the county should consider helping out in efforts he began to try to raise other revenue for the system.
This summer, the system tried an unsuccessful bookmark program, intended to garner advertising funds, but it was scrapped because it did not turn a profit.
"I think with the proper mindset and people and resources behind it, we can generate a great deal of creativity and revenue," Saxton said, adding that the strained library staff was not able to devote the time to the project.
When asked after the presentation about specifics, Saxton said a staff of eight or more should be created at the county level to create a private funding strategy, not just for the library system but for other cash-strapped services, such as parks and recreation.
"I believe that kind of investment will really pay great returns," he said.