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Changes boost Columbia County's libraries

Posted: June 17, 2012 - 12:00am

How long would you pay for services you don’t need?

For most people, the answer is probably “not long.” For Columbia County, however, it’s been charged for several years for services it no longer uses from the state’s library system.

Fortunately, that’s about to end.

As noted in a story this past week in The News-Times, the East Central Georgia Regional Library System Board agrees that, at least for next year, Columbia County won’t have to pay $130,000 for services we don’t use.

How kind of them.

In essence, until this change, Columbia County was a victim of its own success. Ever since the drive to build the new main library in Evans, our county has been light-years ahead of progress in the rest of the hidebound region – but the government body has continued to cling to an Augusta-centric status quo.

The professional staff in Columbia County long ago quit using any services offered by the region, and the region even longer ago stopped buying books for Columbia County’s patrons. Yet the county has continued to be required to pay rising fees as part of the state system.

Thankfully, the persistence of Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith paid off – and taxpayers next year won’t have to pay up. As a bonus, the state also is giving the county funding for a state library position that otherwise would have gone to Augusta.

More changes in the out-of-date system are needed, and some might be coming soon. But a $185,000 benefit for Columbia County taxpayers is a good start.

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Comments (9)

Riverman1

Brick and Mortar Libraries are Archaic

Libraries should be online only. The millions spent to build, maintain and staff these anachonisms is misguided. An online only library would serve ten times the users, provide ten times the books at about a tenth of the cost. The days of going to the library and reading the newspaper held by that cane like thing are gone....matter of fact the hard print newspaper itself may soon be gone.

soapy_725

i use the library

I use the library, it beautiful. But I do not agree with building "glory palaces" to honor politicians. Functional "public buildings", buildings that belong to the public, do not have to be extravagant or outrageously expensive. I would use the library if it were a block building, clean and free of abuse. But we are "into palaces and extravagance". So those voting for more taxes and developer/contractor leaders must believe it is necessary to the community. The leaders have a plan, our money and armed enforcement.

Riverman1

Services

Usually when I bring up doing away with brick and mortar libraries, I'm met with comments such as where would some people go to find a cool place to read, computers and so on if it were not for libraries.

My answer is if our aim is to provide those services then fine. But a community center, YMCA or something with computers for the tiny number of folks who don't have a computer would work at a fraction of the cost. The main purpose of a library is not to have a performing arts theater and movies to borrow. It is to loan out books and that can be done online with a much larger selection at a fraction of the cost.

phoenix11

Columbia County Library --No Services???

Mr. Paschal:

Your over the top opinion in the Sunday paper demonstrates that you are not interested in facts. To formulate an informed opinion one (especially a "so called journalist") should be certain of the facts involved in a story prior to putting pen to paper.

Columbia County Library receives no services from Richmond County's Headquarters Library is a blatant erroneous lie. Have you talked to anyone in Richmond County about services provided? Yes, Columbia County no longer uses a portion of the services provided (by choice)--but if the tax payer knew than purchasing books through a vendor is actually more expensive than going through the regional library. I think the taxpayer would be appalled-- that for every book Columbia County purchases there is an additional $4.50 fee applied by Baker & Taylor.

Two of Columbia County Libraries still use the Headquarters Networking Servers, firewall protection and Envisionware renewal services. Columbia County still receives all of their plastic library cards, Literary databases, Georgia Download Destination, Augusta Archives and Historical Databank, some cataloging services, Summer Reading Database, the children's librarian programs. They have attended all of our staff training (until this summer), their monthly stats are reported to the state, their programs are reported in the monthly bulletin, they use the regional forum, the acquisition catalog database, movie licensing, most of the regional policies and procedures manuals and they rely on the downtown library to complete the annual state report. This list could go on but I'll leave you with just this small portion of what you failed to note.

Yes, I work for the library system and I have worked at both locations and I hate to see any system maligned by one sided nonsense. I know it is an opinion --but I expected better from a journalist.

Phoenix11

Barry Paschal

Response to Phoenix11

Phoenix11: While I attempt to fathom the meaning of an "erroneous lie" from someone who claims to work in the library system, please enlighten me as to why the regional system is foregoing $130,000 in annual support from Columbia County, along with giving up one of its state-funded positions, if Augusta still provides so much "service"? The fact is that Augusta has been supplementing local taxpayer support for its county library system by hoarding the state funding, leaving Columbia County's taxpayers funding their services from local dollars. Does that reality threaten your tax-funded job? Or are you threatened by the reduction in our taxpayers' dollars flowing to the east?

An audit is coming; perhaps you'll want to save your claims of "lies" until after THAT exposure.

The day is approaching for Columbia County to leave the Augusta-centric region and take its earned share of state funding with it. Good riddance.

phoenix11

Honestly

I would love to see Columbia County strike out on their own. I still say you do not have the facts! You could not possibly have the facts if you have only heard one-side of the story. Again we know it is only your opinion and yes, there is an audit coming at the request of the Interim Director and as in the past the library will operate above board, because there is nothing to hide. The only clean hands in this whole mess is the Interim Director, who realizes that the fees are too high and has asked an outside organization to review the fees and make the necessary adjustments. Barry Smith and his staff have tried their best to brow-beat her to make a decision about their fees without a fact finding opportunity. Now, my understanding is that they are holding clandestine meetings to try and break up the Regional system with local politicains from Warren and Lincoln Counties. Yes, Columbia County go on your own and leave our system as is. As part of the staff that helped to building the new Evans Branch and helped to implement most of the programming they currently have . I have no ill will towards Columbia County. I live there and I pay my taxes there. I just hate to see someone malign the regional system without the facts. Please I encourage Columbia County to go and but I also encourage people that write editorials and comments to give facts and not refer to a system they know nothing about as "hidebound region." I think if you checked any facts you would have immediately discovered that the $130,000 figure is wrong and that it should be $113,000.

Phoenix11

Barry Paschal

It's clear from your comments

"Browbeat"? That tells me a lot about your viewpoint. The now-retired director literally laughed in the face of Columbia County staffers when they tried to get changes. The new person is taking the initiative to make the badly overdue adjustments, with support from the state. Augusta's status quo is ending, and I'm sure that makes a lot of previously comfortable people very uncomfortable.

phoenix11

Browbeat

I sat in on the meetings! I didn't see you there to verify what was going on. In fact, I have it on tape if you would care to listen to the tapes. Again I say let Columbia County go out on their own. I worked at Columbia County for 11 years and the library always wanted to go out on their own and had the capabilities to do it. What I am seeing at this point is a lot of venom that is unnecessary. Your article has contributed nothing to making this a smooth transition. Again, the facts are what counts and you have not stated one viable fact in your editorial or your additional comments.
Yes, I say browbeat because no pressure was placed on the former two directors to make a decision--but Barry Smith wants the Interim Director to just give Columbia County a check. That is not going to happen without an analysis of services rendered. And if the Columbia County board thought that the former director laughed in their face they could have contacted the state librarian and corrected the situation.

Please again I say I live in Columbia County and pay good taxes. I have no ill will towards Columbia County and honestly wish them the best--because I am a librarian and want to see all libraries prosper. Again, this has escalated to the level of back door political meetings and it need not have gone that far. The Interim Director was more than willing to work with Columbia County. Again I have it on tape. If you would like to listen to it I can drop it off on my way home to Columbia County--Evans.

Phoenix11

phoenix11

Noon Meeting---Thursday, June 21 @ Columbia County Library

Any citizen that wants to form their own opinion about the situation should attend the meeting scheduled for Thursday at the Columbia County Library. Commissioners from Warren County and Lincoln County will be there and hopefully they will adhere to the Georgia Open Meeting Laws.
Libraries are governed by boards--not politicians--but what may happen here is these local commissioners will force their will on the boards of Warren and Lincoln Counties.

This meeting is with Julia Walker who works for the State Librarian. This is another meeting that the Regional board members were not invited to attend. Columbia County not only wants to pull out of the region their objective is primarily to try and destroy the region. Even if fees are adjusted, the objective is to destroy the regional system.

Phoenix11

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