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Library officials plan to close six days to balance budget

Grady County commissioners were discussing an urgent request from Roddenbery Memorial Library for additional funding again Tuesday, but the board is delaying action on the request until later this year.
Library Director Pamela S. Grigg and Library Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas L. Lehman appeared before the commission this week to discuss the library’s financial situation.
Compounding an already difficult financial picture, the state announced additional cuts to library funding after the start of the current fiscal year. According to Mrs. Grigg, the additional cut is three percent and that cuts the state’s funding for the public library from $166,372 to $161,056.
The library faced a deadline of Aug. 24 to inform the state how the cuts would be administered locally and Mrs. Grigg told county leaders this week the decision was to close the library for six days.
Mrs. Grigg and Associate Librarian Janet Boudet are the only two state funded positions at the local library. According to Chairman Lehman, the board decided rather than furloughing just the two state paid employees, the trustees decided to spread the cut across the board which results in furloughing the entire staff for six days.
Lehman noted that the two state paid employees have already been furloughed for 19 days and it would have meant 29 day furloughs for the two state paid librarians.
“We thought it was a better move to spread the three percent cut among the staff and close six days to make up the loss of money. We picked days that would be the days the library is used the least,” Lehman said.
The days picked include Veteran’s Day, the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, President’s Day, and Good Friday.
“It’s obvious to me that the state of Georgia is getting out of paying for libraries. In the future, public libraries will be about as effective as the local community wants it to be. The state is out of the materials business and they don’t want us to have two librarians. They continue to chop the money and we react the best way possible,” Lehman told county commissioners Tuesday.
Commissioner Charles Norton questioned why the state continues to make cuts when monthly revenue totals continue to show increased monthly revenue.
Norton also suggested the library could investigate the possibility of charging a fee for computer use by library patrons who are not enrolled in school. “It could be a way to generate revenue for the library,” Norton said.
Commissioner T.D. David told the two library officials the board was supportive of the library, but requested additional time to see how much in the county’s contingency fund would be left at the end of November.
“Please let us get to a point where we can make a good financial decision and December will be the earliest we can do that,” David said.
The consensus of the board is if there are contingency funds left at the end of the year, additional money for the library could be appropriated.
“If there is money available, I’m in favor of using it to help the library,” Chairman Elwyn Childs said.
The request for additional funding is tabled until the end of the year.

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