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New Approach Urged for Libraries

Gwinnett leaders think the libraries are necessary, but suggest implementing a new business model.

After another million-dollar budget cut to the Gwinnett County library system, county leaders think it's time for that organization to change its approach.

"I would encourage the library to look at a new business model," Gwinnett District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard said Thursday (Jan. 3) as the county's elected leaders passed the 2013 budget.

Amid a still-tight revenue situation, commissioners cut $1 million in materials from the Gwinnett County Public Library budget, the latest of several large reductions to that system.

Howard noted that the library branches "need to be a community center," but that current plans of coping with their situation are "not working," and she pledged to do "anything I can do" to help.

What do you think the Gwinnett library system's business model should be? Do you think a digital solution is the answer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said the elected leaders are still pro-library. "My daughter is a librarian," Nash said. "But what does the model of the library of the future need to be?"

"We still have to look at a model for the future," she said.

Nash noted that the $1 million reduction in materials in 2013 was "not arbitrary....It does not involve staffing or operational changes."

She added that Gwinnett leaders used Cobb County as a model for their own decision, and that Gwinnett still was spending more on materials than Cobb.

Nash acknowledged that a digital solution might be the answer for the libraries. For example, the Gwinnett school system already is phasing in eCLASS, which emphasizes digital learning over traditional textbooks.

Also, the use of ereaders such as Kindle has drastically changed the business models of book retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Aside from reducing operating hours, the library system has tried such fund-raising methods as advertising and private donations. Still, the fund reductions have continued.

~ Suwanee Patch

Derrell Earl January 05, 2013 at 06:53 PM
We have become too dependant on government to provide all our services. It's time for private donors and corprate sponsers to stepup and fill the gap. As long as we allow government to support everything, other see no need to be involved, They say,"I pay taxes for that". Though private donations, fund raising and corprate sponsors, it may be surprising what we can do,,, The day of government providing everything, may be over??
Timothy Hammond January 05, 2013 at 07:16 PM
I don't understand why anyone would use a library today. I can do and find anything I need on the internet. For any city or county to put any money into libraries is a total waste of money! There are MUCH better places to spend tax payers money than to put it into something that is no longer wanted or needed.
Linda Smith January 05, 2013 at 08:49 PM
'Everything' (books, etc) cannot be found on the internet. Not everyone has access to all the resources of the internet. And when things are found online, they cost money! That's the point of PUBLIC libraries! There still is a special 'magic' of holding a book and moving into a new world of experiences. Privately owned libraries' content would be controlled by those who own them.
Dusty Graham January 05, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the accept no donated materials policy?
Concerned Citizen January 05, 2013 at 09:17 PM
The problem is the commissioners want the library to have a "new business model" without cutting any services, closing any branches or reducing any hours, because if they did this the public would be angry and not re-elect them. A free and equal access to information is the cornerstone of democracy, so libraries do, in fact, provide an important and necessary function to society. It's just that libraries are being asked to do exactly the same with significantly less resources.
Mary Jane Moss January 06, 2013 at 05:24 AM
I use the library regularly. I don't think it is outdated. I have access to the Internet at home. I still love to check out a book and hold it.
Faye Edmundson January 06, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Not everyone has a computer or Internet access. Many people depend on the computer /Internet access at libraries. Also, if we get rid of libraries, are books next? Not everyone has a Kindle or ebook reader. I still love to buy and read books, and in this economy, I often check out the latest books at the library, rather than buying them.
Sabrina Heard January 07, 2013 at 12:03 PM
I think that the electronic books selection needs to be improved and allow for more books to be checked out at a time. This would allow them to spend less money on printed books. Maybe not subscribing to so many magazines. Everytime I go into the library there is someone in the magazine section, but are they all being read?
Tina List Riemer January 10, 2013 at 05:11 PM
I've thought for some time that the library could make a profit (at least a modest one) by offering "curb-side service." I use the online reservation system almost exclusively, as do many of my friends. When my kids were babies, I would gladly have paid a fee ($5?) to be able to make an appointment, drive up to the library at that time, and have someone bring my items to me. The whole unbuckle/unload, remember-to-be-quiet, stay-with-Mommy, reload/rebuckle process is such a hassle. And I have to believe there are others -- disabled? elderly? just plain busy? -- who would benefit, as well as providing library funds.
carey fisher January 12, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Just visit a library sometime. You'll be surprised how busy they are.

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