Columbia County libraries will save thousands of dollars next year.
The East Central Georgia Regional Library System board recently agreed not to charge Columbia County an annual $130,000 fee to remain a part of the state library system for the 2012-13 fiscal year, Community and Leisure Services Division Director Barry Smith said.
The regional hub is the main library in downtown Augusta. It supports libraries in five counties – Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Warren and Lincoln.
For a fee, libraries in the region are provided computers, maintenance and money to purchase books through the Augusta library.
“Back when it was the Gibbs Library era, we may have needed their support,” Smith said. “But once we built this new, big Evans library, we started pulling away with different things.”
The county provides computers and technical support to the libraries, Smith said.
Library personnel purchase books using funding from the county’s library budget. Smith said the region previously provided up to $60,000 each year to purchase books, but those funds were cut long ago, making the membership and the associated fee even less attractive.
“We voluntarily started doing all this ourselves,” Smith said.
“We took it upon ourselves not to use the services. But technically, you need to be part of a district.”
The regional board also agreed to provide the library with a state-paid staffer worth about $55,000.
“We will not be having to pay the $130,000, plus we’ll be given a position,” Smith said. “They (the board) definitely accommodated us.”