East Hall has not had its own library since 2011, but that could soon change, as Hall County seeks state funding to match local dollars to build a new branch.
However, it could still take a few years. The Georgia Public Library Service grant builds up a waiting list. The state funds four to six projects each year, and there are usually about 20 projects on the list, Hall County Library System Director Lisa MacKinney said.
But the library system sees a need for a branch in East Hall and is asking the state for a $2 million grant that would be matched by another $2 million in funds from SPLOST VIII, the penny sales tax that voters opted to renew in November.
The system previously had an East Hall branch on Old Cornelia Highway that closed in 2011 due to county budget cuts. That building is currently being used as a health clinic for county employees.
The East Hall community now lacks library services, MacKinney said.
“If you look at a map, that’s sort of a black hole of library services. There’s nothing out there in any community close,” she said.
According to the county’s grant application, the area has seen growth in recent years due to developments like the new Lanier Technical College campus and J.A. Walters Family YMCA, both along Ga. 365.
But MacKinney said many homes in the area lack internet access, a resource a new library could provide.
“There are a lot of areas in East Hall that don’t have high-speed internet,” she said. “When we had an East Hall branch, that was one of the biggest demands. … There are still some areas that are not plugged in.”
MacKinney said the library system is working on a program plan to identify the needs in the area. The exact location of the East Hall branch has not been decided yet.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners will vote on the grant application at its Feb. 12 meeting.
The library system received a $2 million grant from the state in 2018 that it is now using to renovate the Gainesville branch, which is due to reopen later this year. The Gainesville branch is operating out of a temporary location at 100 Brenau Ave. The state grant is being matched by $2 million in city of Gainesville impact fees and county SPLOST dollars.