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Residents give ideas to improve libraries

POSTED: April 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Robin Michener Nathan/The Times

Left to right, Diane Hirling, the mayor of Flowery Branch, Joan Adam, Paul Anderson, Marcia Duncan and Bernice Cox fill out forms about the roles for the Hall County library at a meeting on Monday night. The Hall County Library System is seeking public input on its long range plan for future growth and development.

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A group of nearly 20 Hall County residents and elected officials gathered Monday at Blackshear Place Library in Oakwood to brainstorm improvement ideas for Hall County libraries.

Adrian Mixson, Hall County Library System director, said the purpose of the focus group was to determine how library patrons’ needs regarding facilities, services and programs might change during the next five years.

"This is a growing county. We’re asking our community to give us some guidance on where they want to see our libraries go," Mixson said. "We want some ideas to develop a template so we can set some goals."

Another focus group meeting was held March 10 at the East Hall library branch.

Assistant Director of Hall County Library System Lisa Mackinney said at that meeting residents voiced a need for more library facilities and better parking at existing branches. She said many North Hall residents expressed a desire for an entirely new library building to replace the cramped Clermont branch.

"We’d love to see that be a possibility. We’ll have to see what happens (with funding)," Mackinney said.

Residents raised similar concerns at the meeting Monday and cited more parking and expanding Clermont library facilities as issues that should be at the top of Hall County Library directors’ and board members’ agendas.

Participants also said they would like to see more library resource training programs to teach patrons, young and old, how to use a modern library. They expressed support for evening and Spanish programs, as well as improved communication between library staff and patrons about upcoming programs. And several participants said they wanted to strengthen the Friends program, a volunteer organization that helps support library funding.

Bernice Cox, a former Hall County Library Board member, attended the focus group and said the Hall County Library system needs to plan ahead for anticipated population growth in the county because libraries are essential to ensuring a high quality of life for residents.

"With computers, we feel like sometimes the community has the perception that the library is not essential to quality of life, and it is," Cox said. "I really do believe people still want books. You’ll never sit with your child and have a computer in your lap, but you will sit with your child and hold a book. At bedtime ... it’s book time."

Cox said although a new library branch is slated to open on Spout Springs Road on May 24, Hall County still needs more facilities and adequate book collections. She said in addition to the new book collection, the Spout Springs branch will also have a coffee shop that will augment library funds.



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