State lawmaker wants library reform - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State lawmaker wants library reform

December 29, 2006

Albany - - Local libraries have faced budget cuts from the state for years.  Now, a Georgia lawmaker wants the state to have more control over how libraries spend the money they do receive. 

If you haven't been to your local library recently, you may be surprised at all of the services it offers. It's not just a place to check out books anymore.

Mimi Campbell comes for the DVDs.

"A lot of the ones that I have bought, they're at the library so saving some money. Now I know they're at the library, I don't have to go buy them. They're here already."

The library also offers VHS tapes, educational and ones for pure entertainment, all free with a library card. That's not all. There are tons of research items like historical documents, genealogy records, even newspapers dating back to 1847.

"If you don't know where else to go come here and if we don't have it, we'll find someplace to send you. We are the information people," says Dougherty County Library Director Teresa Cole.

She says these services couldn't be possible without county funds. But 20 % of the library's money also come from the state.

Georgia representative Chuck Sims says the state needs more oversight over how local libraries spend the money it provides. He also chairs a committee to study financing libraries who need more money.

Cole hopes it doesn't take away money from her library.

"The state severely cut its budget and we never really got that back so we don't want to lose anymore."

She says state dollars fund the library's Talking Books program where people who cant see can hear books on audio tape. The library even mails the tapes out to people who can't come pick them up.

It's little services like these that keep patrons coming back, even for the DVDs.

"Movies from the 40'S and 50's they have every single one of them here."

And they want every single one of those services to stay.

Cole says the library watches its budget carefully and doesn't buy items it doesn't need.

Representative Chuck Sims wants the state to conduct annual financial audits on library systems. He plans to submit his bill at the start of the General Assembly session.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=libraries/bs

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