Columbia Co. libraries looking to save money, possibly split from current system

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email
The Columbia County Library is now in talks to split from the five-county system and start its own regional system. (WRDW-TV / July 18, 2012)

The Columbia County Library is now in talks to split from the five-county system and start its own regional system. (WRDW-TV / July 18, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, June 18, 2012

EVANS, Ga. -- Some changes could be coming to your local library.

Right now, five counties make up the East Central Georgia Regional Library System, but Columbia County wants to break from the pack and start its own.

Heidi Lapan spends a lot of time at the Evans library.

"They have a great selection of children's books, so I bring my granddaughters every week to get books," she said.

And Lapan's not alone. The Evans branch is the busiest of the 15 libraries in the East Central Georgia Regional Library System, circulating nearly double what the Richmond County Library sends out.

"I like a real book in my hand and apparently a lot of other people do, too, because it is always busy here, a lot of people here," Lapan said.

The Columbia County Library is now in talks to split from the five-county system and start its own regional system. The library is also in negotiations with Warren and Lincoln counties.

"Nothing's finalized, but it's very close to becoming a reality for the three counties to team up," explained Barry Smith, the Columbia County director of Community and Leisure Services.

The county says it will save taxpayers nearly $130,000 a year.

"Currently, we pay $113,000 to be a member of the East Georgia Regional Library District. We felt that currently we're not getting enough for the money we pay into the region," Smith said.

With membership, collections and delivery fees, the county spends a lot of money to be a part of this system, which is money they could save with the switch.

"I think we're looking out for the citizens of Columbia County," Smith said.

As for the current Augusta headquarters, they would lose about four positions and some state funding with the change.

"I don't think they're real happy about it, but we've got to do what's best for the citizens of this county and the other two counties as well," Smith said.

"We always find great books in there, don't we?" Lapan asked her granddaughters.

She supports the move, "If it's a money-saver for them, that's always a good thing."

The county says the move was suggested and then approved and sanctioned by the state. Instead of sending the funding to the current Augusta headquarters, about $400,000 would go to the Evans location to distribute among the new system.

If the move happens, they will have to announce it by December and it would go into effect next July.


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