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Library board closes two library branches; lays off employees

Latrondria Riggins looks through the DVD collection at Dougherty County Public Library Southside Branch on Habersham Road Wednesday afternoon. Southside and Westtown branches are scheduled to close permanently June 30.

Latrondria Riggins looks through the DVD collection at Dougherty County Public Library Southside Branch on Habersham Road Wednesday afternoon. Southside and Westtown branches are scheduled to close permanently June 30.

ALBANY, Ga. - A fiscal year budget shortfall of more than $121,000 has prompted the closure of two of the five Dougherty County public libraries.

The Library Board of Trustees have voted to close the Southside Library branch on Habersham as well as Westtown on Waddell Avenue immediately and lay off six employees until further notice.

The library board has hoped to close the branches but keep the employees, however the closing and the layoffs was determined to be the most "fiscal responsible" alternative.

The employees have been notified. Books and materials will be transferred to the remaining three open branches.

Effective July 1, hours for the branches to remain open are:

Northwest Branch and Tallulah Massey Branch Central Branch

Monday 10am – 8pm Monday 10am – 8pm

Tuesday – Thursday 10am – 6pm Tuesday – Thursday 10am – 6pm

Friday – Saturday 10am – 2pm Friday – Saturday 10am – 2pm

Sunday closed Sunday 2pm – 6pm

photo

Jim West

Westtown on Waddell Avenue is one of two Dougherty County public libraries forced by budget reductions to close its doors. Southside Library will also close. Six employees of the two facilities will be laid off until further notice, according to the Dougherty County Board of Trustees.

In addition to fewer locations, hours and staff, library patrons may notice other budget impacts, including more limited resources. Upcoming programming planned for the Southside Branch Library and Westtown Branch Library will be rescheduled to another branch.

Additionally, at its annual meeting, the PINES Executive Committee voted to increase the overdue fee for books from 10 cents per day to 20 cents per day, effective July 1, 2012. A statewide consortium of 285 public libraries and affiliated service outlets in 143 Georgia counties, the Public Information Network for Electronic Services – PINES, for short – offers citizens a shared catalog of approximately 10.4 million items, with a single library card that is welcomed in all member libraries.

The July fine increase will affect books in the collections of all PINES member libraries, including those of the Dougherty County Public Library. Similar fee increases for overdue magazines, audio books, compact discs and other items are currently under review by PINES subcommittees and could be implemented in the coming months. Despite the need for this change, the Library also wants to do its best to help borrowers return items on time. Individuals who have opted to receive email notices from the Library currently receive courtesy reminders several days before books and other items are due. Borrowers are also contacted by mail, phone, or email when items are past due and need to be returned. The first overdue notice is generated at 10 days past the due date of an item. The final notice is sent at 30 past the due date. Library cardholders can access information about their Library accounts anytime from the Library website, www.docolib.org, or by calling 420-3200 with their Library card number.

Information regarding other affected services will be announced and updated at www.docolib.org and other avenues as appropriate.

Comments

VSU 2 years, 6 months ago

Our economy continues to improve.

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Shinedownfan 2 years, 6 months ago

And them r the safe areas of Dougherty County, arent they???

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Sally_O 2 years, 6 months ago

Areas should have nothing to do with it, everybody should have close access to a library. Do you honestly think nothing bad could happen at any of the other libraries? A man last year got shot and killed outside the Tallulah Massey library.

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jglass 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't agree with them closing any of the locations. It is going to be very inconvenient for those who use the libraries in those areas.

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whattheheck 2 years, 6 months ago

And the taxpayer should struggle to pay for underutilized convenience? Really tugs at the very core of my being.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 6 months ago

The Southside should not loose anything, they should gain more opportunities.

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Clif 2 years, 6 months ago

How many more opportunities should they gain? They have had about two trillion dollars worth of opportunities since LBJ started the "Great Society" in 1965, and instead of improving, conditions have become worse.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

Clif........there you go again, "casting your pearls before swine".

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Clif 2 years, 6 months ago

I've been casting my taxes to the Democrat Slave Plantation for over sixty years. I stand by what I said...LBJ started it with the "Great Society" vote buying scheme. Come off the Plantation Sister Ruby. Or is it that you can't make it without your Slave Masters handouts?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

Clif, you misunderstand me. We are on the same team here. Your comments should be directed to "them"....that is, those who ARE on the Plantation..........and are WILLINGLY there.........such as Bubbavet_rureel and coachjohnson42.......and a few others.

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Cartman 2 years, 6 months ago

I love libraries. Closing them down and sending employees a pink slip is very tough, but necessary. I thank the Library Board for grasping reality and making this difficult decision. Now if commissioners will do the same, we might get a budget into control. How can we keep giving money to the Riverquarium and ACRI, when we are closing public libraries?

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MisterEd 2 years, 6 months ago

Yeah...........the Southside shouldn't LOSE anything. Because we all know how much they bring to the table.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

Two of the worst places you could close a library branch....the South side and the West side. Maybe they were not used very much? I would think they would want to keep them open where the need for education and access is greatest.

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whattheheck 2 years, 6 months ago

There are people who visit the library only to use the free computers. Some interviewed on tonight's news said they visit to surf the internet and read their emails, no research mentioned. A friend used the library computers for years in the same manner because he did not want to pay for internet services although he had money to do so--just plain cheap,
Likewise, I have never understood why libraries got in the business of stocking VHS tapes and now DVDs that are movies available at a rental store. Why should the public pay for entertainment?

I don't believe the library board would even consider closing those two branches if they were not underused. Perhaps book checkouts are low and returns are likewise. But on the subj of use, one of the most common complaints I have heard about the downtown library is pandering outside the door and people using furniture in the inside area as their residence for the day.

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sld28sld 2 years, 6 months ago

I am not a resident of Dougherty County, but this concerns even me. We all have heard the problems within the Dougherty County School System, and there are students within the system who have a strong desire to learn and rise above and out of Dougherty County. This is going to greatly hinder their access to resources that may be their only outlet to research materials. I am a firm believer that that in order for an individual to reach their fullest potential you have to give that person access to resources to rise up. It goes back to the saying that goes somewhat like this "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, TEACH a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime." If we don't find a way to make resources available to our youngsters how are they going to learn to stand on their own and NOT rely on government assistance. That is another major gripe here in this area.

We have so many individuals that are on government assistance here that with a solid education, they may be able to rise above the need for such help. Now, I realize and support the fact that education and the desire to learn and make good grades MUST be instilled at the home level, it is NOT strictly the teacher's job to MAKE a kid make good grades. The PARENTS must encourage their kids to learn, monitor their kids grades, and make education a priority. NOT just complain because little Johnny got in trouble because of something Mama thinks he should have gotten away from. Kids need home training AT HOME. Our kids are behind in Math and Science compared to some other nations. If we continue to remove and restrict resources they are going to continue to score behind these other nations. Find somewhere else to cut funds from and leave the resources alone.

Yes, those that want to excel after the closing of these branches, will find a way to get to other branches. But what about the parents who are using these branches due for closure for locating jobs? You want them off the government payrolls, but you're are hindering their ability to get any other type of paycheck. Some companies now require applications to be completed online... if a person's only access to internet is at the library (come on now, power, rent, clothing, food are more important than internet) then why are we removing this resource from the job hunter. SURELY IT IS CHEAPER TO PAY SOME PART TIME EMPLOYEES THAN IT IS TO KEEP SOMEONE ON GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE. Decrease operation hours at these locations while kids aren't in school, close the doors at 6pm instead of 9pm, but DON'T take away a resource that the community greatly needs.

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Clif 2 years, 6 months ago

So much space taken to say so very little.

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whattheheck 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't think those using the branches, which were the most underutilized in the system, are doing much research and certainly are not checking out books to take home according to statistics. From what the Director said in a television interview, even the computers, generally used as those interviewed said, to surf the web and check emails had less usage than other locations. The crew videoing the facilities apparently had a hard time finding anyone to talk to or show using the facilities on its visit.

DCSS and public education in the entire SWGA area are abysmal and if you want to save some of the people with potential this is the place to start not the library. For those who want to fill out a job application, the Labor Dept and Goodwill's employment center both offer computers for such use. And the other library locations are just a subsidized Albany Transit bus trip away.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 6 months ago

Since only 5% of the people in the good old USA ever steps foot into a library during one year, this closing should not inconvience many folks. Gainesville, FL which was bigger than Albany only had one branch in 1980. So we have been lucky.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years, 6 months ago

The students on the southside are already at a great risk of dropping out of high school. The greatest percentage of people in Albany who are looking for work live on the south side. Closing this library is the WORST thing that can be done for that area of town. They have limited resources and are now losing another one. If you have to close a branch, close the one on Dawson Road.

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Clif 2 years, 6 months ago

Bishop/Obama marches on!!! The people affected most by these closings are the ones who will vote for Bishop/Obama. The most stupid thing to do is keep electing these people and expect things to get better.

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dingleberry 2 years, 6 months ago

It is interesting to me that folks seem to be interested in cutting expenditures, waste, and inefficiency until a cut that is needed is suggested. Then the scrambling starts among even the citizens who do pay taxes to keep spending the money. When a person has gangrene, it is usually better to cut off the toes or even the foot rather than lose the leg. We got in the financial pickle, which some are now wanting to address, in many areas because government either gave us services we didn't want, or services we didn't need, or in this case, services we didn't use. .

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alleebrin 2 years, 6 months ago

A step in the right direction! So many unneeded facilities now have to be paid for. That's government and that's greed. When the new fiscal year rolls around, if you don't ask for more than last year, you will probably be cut! A neighbor of mine worked at the Marine Base and told this story: When it came time for the allocation of funds for the new year, the Base took all the inventory and buried it so they could get at least what they got last year!! Having worked in the governmnet many years ago, I determined at that time that if employees earned their pay, it would only take 25% as much to run the government. People worked harder to get out of doing their jobs than it would have taken to actually do the job!! Yes, GOD BLESS AMERICA!! GLAD I PASSED THROUGH WHEN I DID!

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whattheheck 2 years, 6 months ago

The printed version of this story has a statement attributed to the Library Director that health insurance costs for an employee making $18,000 a year are $10,000. I am sorry but I simply don't believe this number--where are we getting the insurance? If this is the case, I wonder if we can afford to keep any employees.

When the lights are dimmed at these two locations, I hope crews are outside with 3/4" plywood to cover all windows and doors and remove all A/C units to give copper thieves an empty slate. If not, in a little time, we will have two more Heritage Houses. on our hands

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

Obamacare is now in effect. Rising insurance costs are due to two things: increased insurance premiums to pay for all the new coverage mandates of Obamacare and higher than average medical costs within 100 miles of Albany due to the Phoebe Monopoly. Simple!

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chinaberry25 2 years, 6 months ago

Yes, you obviously have never worked in accounting. You also have state and federal unemployment, workmen's compensation as well as FICA matches. These are all considered as insurance. It could well be more than that.

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whattheheck 2 years, 6 months ago

Uh, CB, I see you didn't also read the version printed in the paper, the source for the comment, which specifically said "employer portion of health insurance costs". So when what you mention is added, it makes the cost even higher, doesn't it? So, sometimes the "obvious" isn't, is it?

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MRKIA 2 years, 6 months ago

LET SOME OF THE LIBRARY PATRONS FORGO THE BIG CHROME WHEELS, TATTOOS, GOLD TEETH, HAIR WEAVE, SMART PHONES, AND BIG FLAT SCREEN T.V.'S AND BUY THEIR OWN COMPUTERS. THE LIBRARY WILL BE EMPTY THEN. LIBRARIES ARE GOING THE WAY OF THE POST OFFICE.

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Cartman 2 years, 6 months ago

There is no such thing as a painless cut. Close the libraries.

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Citizen1 2 years, 6 months ago

People commenting here are so judgemental and hateful.

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Citizen1 2 years, 6 months ago

Don't comment when you don't know what you are talking about. Most of those commenting here need to keep their opinions.

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years, 6 months ago

MRKIA Those are not the people who need this library. It is the ones who are contacted by potential employers via email (that has been the case for me several times), It is the student who needs to work on the financial aid application. It is the teenager who needs somewhere safe to hang out and read a book. The students who are wanting to better their lives and get the hell out of Agony, Ga deserve better than this...

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for making it plain for lower case mrkia.

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farmgirl 2 years, 6 months ago

LIBRARIES WON'T GO THE WAY OF THE POST OFFICE UNLESS WE STUPIDLY LET THEM

 The existence of digital information does not mean we no longer need libraries or librarians.  Librarians and libraries have already survived changes of information format:  from stone and clay tablets to papyrus, to hand-written texts on parchment, to the printing press, the typewriter, and the computer.  As information continues to grow exponentially and become digitized, people will need librarians more than ever to guide them through the jungle of information.

 The biggest reason for Albany's large population of poor people is ignorance, and  libraries are among the best ways to combat ignorance.

 In times of economic hardship, Americans turn to – and depend on – their libraries and librarians.

 Libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically. From free access to books and online resources for families to library business centers that help support entrepreneurship and retraining, libraries support lifelong learning.

 Libraries are America’s great information equalizers – the only place people of all ages and backgrounds can find and freely use such a diversity of resources, along with the expert guidance of librarians.

 See Op-Ed from Los Angeles Times by Marilyn Johnson, "U.S. Public Libraries:  We Lose Them At Our Peril," at http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/06/opinion/la-oe-johnson-libraries-20100706.

 For a Return on Investment Analysis of GA public libraries, see p. 5 of this link:  http://www.georgialibraries.org/lib/publiclibinfo/currentlook/Current_Look_FY11_pt1.pdf
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whattheheck 2 years, 6 months ago

The biggest "reason for Albany's large population of poor people" is the copious number of subsidized housing units which draws more poor people from far and wide. Oh yeah, forgot about the rest of the expensive support system costs we provide too but you get the drift. They aren't coming for jobs and schools.

We have a failing school system which should help with "education" but will do little for "ignorance". And when folks don't go to and use the library, it equalizes nothing--which is why closure needs to happen.

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