I know editorials are opinions. However, even in editorials, when “facts” are given, it would be good if they were accurate. I write as an employee of the Regional Library system – the head cataloger, in fact, at the Augusta Library, and as a citizen of Columbia County.
To set the record straight:
• The regional fee that the Columbia County libraries have been paying is $113,000, not $130,000. This fee has been paid for the past several years, at a consensus vote reached by the Regional Library Board, at which Columbia County was duly represented. This fee – along with fees for other counties, which are part of the regional system – was instituted after many years of increasing service to the Columbia County libraries as the county population exploded and library use increased.
As the June 17 editorial says, they are “a victim of their own success,” but one which was taxing the understaffed headquarters library to its limit in trying to accommodate the huge increase in demand for services by the Columbia County libraries (hereafter referred to as CCO).
• The CCO libraries (note that I use the plural of the word) avail themselves of many services from the headquarters library. Libraries in Columbia County include not just the Evans library, but also the Harlem library and the Euchee Creek Library in Grovetown.
Both of these libraries continue to use the computer network run at the Headquarters library in Augusta for the bulk of their computer/Internet needs. The network is managed by Richmond County employees at the Augusta library. ...
It is true that the bulk of materials purchased for the CCO libraries are no longer being ordered by the Augusta Headquarters library staff, a decision that was made by the CCO library (one which contravenes public library regulations in Georgia, by the way). However, the CCO libraries continue to send a great quantity of books, DVDs and audiobooks to the Augusta library for cataloging and processing.
These include many of their donated books, which they want to add to their collection. We work on these materials for the CCO libraries regularly. Just last month alone, this cataloging and processing was done for nearly 600 books, DVDs and audiobooks.
This is not to mention the administrative work done by the Augusta Library staff on behalf of the Columbia County libraries. The Augusta staff runs statistical reports from the automated library system (PINES), assists in helping CCO staff with problems arising from the automated library system, meets regularly with the CCO Library Board, and provides other administrative-type services, too many to mention here. ...
If the Columbia County libraries were not part of a regional library system, they would not be a member of the PINES library system. Columbia County patrons are huge consumers in PINES, fully availing themselves of the loan of books from all over the state from other libraries in the PINES consortium.
While it’s fair to say that the CCO libraries are not using some of the services offered by the Regional Headquarters Library, and quite possibly the “regional fee” that has been charged to them in the past several years might be too high, and I believe it should be evaluated, it is also fair to acknowledge that the CCO libraries withdrew from using these services of their own volition; at no time did the Regional Headquarters Library cut off services.
It is not fair, or accurate, to say that the Columbia County libraries receive no services from the Regional Library System.
It would be “kind” and responsible of you to get your facts straight.
(Roberta Wilder is head of technical services for the East Central Georgia Regional Library.)