In this 2012 file photo, patrons use the Five Forks Branch Library following a renovation.
LAWRENCEVILLE — An increase in service hours at Gwinnett County library branches, scheduled to go into effect next week, is independent of a recent vote to cut the library’s materials budget by $500,000, officials clarified Monday.
At the same mid-January meeting, the Gwinnett County Public Library board of trustees voted to approve both a $500,000 decrease in the library’s materials budget and an increase in operation hours for the system’s 15 branches. The latter, scheduled to go into effect March 3, bumped 3 p.m. branch closings (which are sporadic and on different days for each branch) back to 6 p.m., adding six hours of library time to each branch each week.
The moves seem contradictory, but at a board workshop Monday night, GCPL branch service division manager Barbara Spruill said the boost from 44 to 50 hours a week was not the product of additional spending.
It came “as a result of an ongoing process ... of creating greater efficiencies in the use of the library’s staff and resources,” Spruill said. A number of part-time positions with benefits have been converted to hourly jobs sans benefits, she said.
“The number of positions are exactly the same as they were (when a budget was approved) in May,” business services director Jane Walters told the board. “There might have been some repositioning in trying to get the best bang for our buck.”
Officials said they are currently seeking to fill about 13 positions. Those employees will work 17 hours a week without vacations or health insurance, as opposed to the 20 hours previously worked by part-time employees who had benefits.
The new hourly employees will be assigned a home branch and be able to float to two more, Spruill said.
“They will be fully trained,” Spruill said.
The $500,000 slash in the materials budget came in January, after the county announced a $1 million deduction in funding. GCPL’s materials budget is typically around $3 million a year.
The board also voted on Jan. 14 to continue a pay freeze for full-time library staff.