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Burke County joins Clarks Hill Regional Library System

Posted: July 13, 2014 - 12:07am

And then there was one.

The library system that used to include Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Lincoln and Warren counties, became a single-county system July 1 when Burke jumped ship, joining the Greater Clarks Hill Regional Library System.

The Clarks Hill region was created a year ago, when Columbia, Lincoln and Warren counties broke away from the East Central Georgia Regional Library System, which was headquartered in
Augusta.

Now, Augusta stands alone, abandoned by its last partner this month.

Mary Lin Maner, Clarks Hill regional library director, said Burke County officials approached them in March to begin discussions about coming aboard the new system.

“They were unhappy with where they were,” Maner said. “Everything kind of worked out from there.”

The change means that Clarks Hill has added three Burke County branches to its system and will add two new regional positions to the Evans headquarters – one full-time and one part-time, she said.

Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith said the Evans office will now have seven state funded regional positions and a budget of more than $476,000 with the addition of Burke County.

He said just like the other counties which joined the Clarks Hill system, Burke County will no longer have to pay an annual membership fee to the region. He said last year, Burke County paid about $30,000 to the Augusta regional system.

Elaine Sikes, Burke County Library manager, said she wished they had joined with the other counties last year.

“Our regional board members weren’t happy with the way the regional board was being handled so they recommended that we move,” Sikes said.

Sikes said some of the issues involved conflicts with the Augusta regional library director, Darlene Price, who took over as director in 2012.

“They just had a clash of personalities,” she said.

Price said Thursday she couldn’t comment until she had consulted with the Augusta library board.

Kay Jones, a library board member for Burke County, declined to elaborate.

“We just feel like we will be better served under the Columbia County management,” Jones said.

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