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Libraries still have relevancy

Of the cutbacks that have been coming from the sluggish economy, one of the most regrettable was the announcement this week that the Dougherty County Library Board of Trustees will be shutting down two of the county's five libraries.

Citing cuts to the Dougherty library system's budget for the Fiscal year 2013, which starts July 1, the trustees have decided to close the Southside branch on Habersham Road off Oakridge Drive and the Westtown branch on Waddell Avenue.

The two branches will be shuttered on June 30 and six system employees will lose their jobs. Materials in the two facilities will be redistributed to the three surviving branches, Central on North Jackson Street in downtown; Northwest on Dawson Road, and Tallulah Massey on Stratford Drive.

Meanwhile, the austerity measures impact those three facilities as well. The Central library will close two hours earlier on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the Northwest branch will close two hours earlier on Thursdays. All three will close at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, four hours earlier than the current 6 p.m. closing times.

Some argue that libraries are anachronisms in the electronic information age, a holdover from a time when information wasn't a few keyboard strokes away on a computer hooked up to the Internet. But libraries have done a great deal to stay relevant, providing Wi-Fi service and computers, adding events such as storytimes for children, making available genealogy material, providing research material, providing meeting space for organizations and even lending ebooks.

And you can still borrow books and enjoy the pleasure of turning real pages as you soak in the words.

Libraries also provide access to information that is free -- no monthly Internet charges, no download fee for an ebook. Particularly in a time when jobs are scarce and money is tight, libraries continue to provide a needed community service. They provide learning opportunities that are not duplicated anywhere else at a price anyone can afford.

While we understand the trustees' decision and know that public funding is tight everywhere, we hope these measures can be reversed at some point when the economy is stronger.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board

Comments

whattheheck 1 year, 10 months ago

When Carnegie libraries began to flourish in the early 1900s, books were relatively expensive and public education was in many cases little more than a toddler. If one wanted to visit the library, it was a trip to town by whatever non-public means one could find to get there and library resources were more than "rather limited".

We now have five branches and have attempted to "stay relevant" with computers, ebooks and the like. But relevancy costs money, public of course, and when the public spigot starts running slowly, even libraries must cut their loses. Are the computers really being used for meaningful research or is their use to surf the internet and read emails as one of the patrons interviewed stated. Or, perhaps usage is like a friend who used to drove to the NW library and spent hours on the internet because, as he said, he did not want to pay for internet service. Then we have the DVDs which include regular movies available at the rental stores if one will use their own money. And of course while we do things electronically, we also still do print and when a "library book sale" has five copies of the same book in mint condition, one must wonder.

Criticism of the DCSS and its lackluster performance is a frequent topic of discussion--the performance isn't there and money is being wasted. Of course we still don't cut the money because it is "education". Now, when the Library Director and Board says we must close two under performing branches--lowest in computer and book use--the same educational aspect seems to become the reason to keep the branches open. But aren't expense and under utilization are the same reasons people don't want to fund the RQ and ACRI which are both considered "educational"?

Times are tough and in tough times we have to make hard choices. Based on what has been put out so far on the matter, those in the library system make a good case for the actions taken. Cut off two toes and be glad that the foot still has three--or let's try to keep the patient alive until the whole leg has to go. Hard times call for measures much more drastic than these and the alternative is to raise taxes even higher than the proposed increases.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 10 months ago

I tried to read your post, whattheheck, but my brain exploded half way through! Sorry!!

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