Columbia County commissioners must decide Tuesday if they will follow the advice or their department heads or agree with those opposing the transfer of a Grovetown librarian to Evans.
Former Euchee Creek Library supervisor John Welch starts his new job Monday as a reference specialist at the Columbia County Library in Evans.
At a 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting in the auditorium of the Evans Government Center, commissioners will discuss whether the transfer will stand after a public outcry from Euchee Creek Library patrons.
In a meeting at the library last week with a group of Welch's supporters, commission Chairman Ron Cross promised to discuss Welch's transfer with other commissioners.
Cross explained that the Grovetown library is one of the busiest in the East Central Georgia Regional Library System. Before the new downtown Augusta Library opened, Euchee Creek was the second-busiest library in the region, behind Columbia County's main library in Evans.
As such, Cross said, Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith and county Library Manager Mary-Lin Maner believed the Euchee Creek branch deserved a supervisor with a master's degree in library science. Welch has a bachelor's degree in history.
"It's a change in philosophy of management in the library system," Cross said.
Many of those against the transfer noted that Welch has worked in libraries for about 30 years and has supervised the Euchee Creek Branch since it opened in 1994.
"Do you think that degree, that pice of paper, is worth more than that experience?" a Welch supporter asked Cross.
The chairman countered by saying that the reasons for the transfer extend beyond Welch's education level.
In an employee evaluation conducted last year, Cross said that Welch earned 3.35 rating out of five. He added that Welch was chastised for sleeping at the library during operating hours, dressing poorly, and for not changing out old books for new ones fast enough.
Welch defended himself against those accusations, saying he and his staff have since kept a strict dress code and that he has not used the library's employee lounge for naps during his lunch hour ever since he was asked not to.
"We have a little more laid-back attitude," another of Welch's supporters chimed in.
P.K. Fitzgerald, a Euchee Creek patron, said moving Welch is indicative of an "elitist" movement in local government.
Cross said the county staff is simply trying to prepare for continued growth in the Grovetown area by providing more-professional library services.
"Urban expansion has blinded the leaders of this county to community values," Fitzgerald said.
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