Commissioners push to re-open library branches - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners push to re-open library branches

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

A Dougherty County Commissioner is now officially part of the library board of trustees.  Some commissioners hope that will help in their push to re-open two library branches shut down back in June.  But other library board members say there's simply not enough funding.

For nearly six months the Southside and Westtown library branches have sat empty. Now Dougherty County Commissioners are trying to find ways to get at least one of the branches back up and running.

"Looking at what we have now, I really believe that there's opportunity in that budget to do something creative so that we can re-open that library," said Dougherty County Commissioner, Gloria Gaines.

During Monday's meeting, commissioners were presented with an annual report from Mary Antoine, the interim library director.

She says the closing of the two branches will save more than $300,000 a year. And to re-open them would cost more than $500,000, something she says is too costly right now.

"We would love to open more branches here in Dougherty County if we had the money. Right now, we don't have the funds to do so," said Antoine.

The library board of trustees announced they were shutting down the two branches in June, after reviewing several options to cut costs.

Some commissioners were concerned they had no input in the decision, which prompted them to appoint Commissioner John Hayes to the board.

"With Commissioner Hayes presence, I do believe that we will, this community will talk again about re-opening at least one of those facilities," said Gaines.

And Commissioner Hayes says, one of his top priorities is getting one or both branches open to benefit the surrounding communities.

"Our goal is immediate, it's immediate. Cost is the concern, and what we've got to do is drill down and see where we can, we've got to take a second look at the budget, we've got to look at all of the line items and see where we can find something that has been initially overlooked," said Hayes.

While commissioners are hopeful, library board officials say there are currently no plans to re-open either branch.

Commissioner John Hayes' term on the library board begins in January.

Dr. James Hill was also re-appointed Monday.

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