SUWANEE -- The Gwinnett County Public Library board voted Monday to both slash its materials budget and add hours to its branches.
As it attempts to counteract a $1 million deduction in county funding, the board of trustees voted for a $500,000 decrease in its materials budget for the remainder of this fiscal year. The move marks a significant cut --the library's overall materials budget is typically around $3 million a year, though many factors play into the exact tally.
Monday's meeting went long and board members were not available to comment prior to press time. But some board members have previously called the cuts "harsh" and "severe."
Later in the same meeting -- during which Dick Goodman was elected 2013's board chair -- the group also approved a recommendation to add hours to its branches. Effective in early March, branch closings at 3 p.m. (which are sporadic and different for each branch) will be bumped back to 6 p.m. closing times.
The move will essentially add six hours of library time to each branch each week.
"I appreciate this, I like the consistency," board member Babs Wagoner said. "I think that will be so much easier for the community."
GCPL Executive Director Nancy Stanberry-Kellam said the extra employee hours were already factored into the budget.
The board also voted Monday to continue a pay freeze for library staff, to include "no pay for performance, no cost of living adjustment and no longevity pay" increases.
Goodman, also a Suwanee city councilman, has been on the library board since April 2011. With vice chair Betty Atkinson absent Monday, Goodman was a 4-0 unanimous choice for the board's next chairman.
Former chair Philip Saxton's term on the board expired with the new year.
Lawrenceville resident Deborah Oscarson was appointed to the board by District 3 Commissioner Tommy Hunter and took part in her first meeting Monday.