Westtown Branch Library to reopen in January - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Westtown Branch Library to reopen in January

Pauline Abidde, Dougherty County Public LIbrary Interim Director Pauline Abidde, Dougherty County Public LIbrary Interim Director
Westtown Branch Library on Waddell Ave. Westtown Branch Library on Waddell Ave.
Richard Crowdis, Dougherty County Administrator Richard Crowdis, Dougherty County Administrator
Dougherty County Commissioners during Monday's meeting at the Government Center in Downtown Albany Dougherty County Commissioners during Monday's meeting at the Government Center in Downtown Albany

Monday, the Dougherty County Library Board announced its plan to reopen a branch that has been closed for more than a year. 

Dougherty County leaders sealed off the Westtown Branch Library last summer due to budgetary constraints.  But the County administrator and the Library system's new interim director have been working to restore the lost resource to the community. 

Residents who visited the neighborhood library may not have expected to again walk through the doors, but they could be checking out some books by as early as January.

Dougherty County leaders applauded library staff at Monday's County Commission meeting for their efforts in restoring a valuable community resource, and turning around a struggling system.

"I'm very happy that the commission actually gave us the funding to be able to open Westtown back, and I'm very excited that we're gonna be able to open it," said Pauline Abidde, Dougherty County Public Library Interim Director. 

The Southside Branch Library and the Westtown Branch library were closed last summer in the face dwindling county revenues.  But commissioners approved $68,000 earlier this year to reopen the branch. And utilizing the funds couldn't come at a better time.

"All of our circulation at our current libraries have increased.  Our Northwest Library circulated almost 27,000 materials last month and we're really enjoying an increased usage at all of our other libraries," said Abidde.

And reopening the doors is going to bring a vital resource back to the community.

"It will be a good area for after school for kids who wanted to go to the library before and also for other educational activities that could be planned there," said Richard Crowdis, County Administrator. 

A new staff will need to be hired and trained to work in the library, along with reestablishing subscription services and preparing databases for patrons.  All an effort, Crowdis said, that could transform what residents may expect. 

"There will probably be a little different design in there, from talking with Mrs. Abidde, who's interim director.  We're looking at possibly a different format in the branch library to make it more accessible and convenient and efficient," said Crowdis. 

Public Works employees are expected to begin filling the empty shelves with thousands of books within the next few months. 

Library officials said they're expecting the highest patronage the Westtown Library has ever seen once the branch is reopened.    And the Interim Director said they may open the building a little earlier than expected if they're able to get everything finished before January. 

The money used to fund the reopening will last until June of 2014.  County Commissioners say they'll be looking to fund the branch in future budgets. 


Following the Westtown Branch Library announcement, a 30-year employee of the Dougherty County Public Library system has been named the new Interim Director in the face of two major projects. 

Monday, The Library Board of Trustees Chairman presented Pauline Abidde to county commissioners.

She takes her position as the library system continues its search to replace former director Mike Dugan who retired in February.

Abidde was the manager of the Northwest Library branch and is now overseeing the Westtown reopening and the Central Library renovation as the county continues its search.

"I'm very proud.  I'm very thankful to the library board for entrusting me to fill in for this position as Interim Director.  And it's been an honor for me to work in this position," said Pauline Abidde, Interim Director. 

Abidde said the library system will continue to provide excellent services for patrons.

Library Board members have received twelve more applications for the permanent director position.

They will narrow those down to five within the next few weeks, and plan to further review each candidate during meetings in September.

 The Dougherty County Library Board said that major renovation of the central library in downtown Albany is still scheduled to be completed in January and may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars less than expected.

Earlier this month the board voted to hire Columbus architects to finish the job and place furnishings throughout the four story building. Workers say the renovation is coming along nicely and say they're about 30% finished.

 Board Chairman Walter Kelley says,  "We determined that the furniture, fixtures, and equipment will be bid on state contracts and that we hired our architects, Hecht Burdeshaw, to oversee, not only the acquisition, but they'll also oversee the installation of it."

Board members say the main library is just a shell right now as the work is going on. They say it will look great when the work is done.


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