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Library board to reconsider weekend hours at branches
Proposal could involve opening one branch for a few hours
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Hall County Library Board meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Gainesville library branch, 127 Main St. NW, Gainesville
Contact: 770-532-3311

The Hall County Library Board is going to reconsider the system’s operating hours, after it made the decision to close the libraries on weekends as of Saturday.

Adrian Mixson, Hall County Library System director, said he will recommend at the board’s Tuesday night meeting that they add a few hours on the weekends so that everyone in the county has equal access to the library.

One possibility, he said, is to open the library branches on a part-time floating schedule. Each week a different library would be opened for a few hours.

He said another option might be to open the busier branches part time on the weekends. It will be up to the board to decide what to do.

Joy Bolt, Hall County Library Board member, said the board has discussed some of those scheduling options in the past. She said she is not sure which way the board will lean on Tuesday but said no one is happy about the library’s current situation.

As a librarian herself, she said she could understand why there might be some hesitation in a floating schedule. She said people might get confused about the floating schedule and not come to the library at all, but if that is what people in the county want, then they’ll consider it.

"I know that is hard on people not to be able to come on Saturdays," Bolt said. "Most people work out of the county and to get there during open hours when there isn’t any weekend time, that is very difficult."

In 2011 the system laid off 20 employees, closed two branches and cut operating hours in response to county budget cuts.

Earlier this month, the system had to change operating hours again, including closing on the weekends, to make up for a lack of funding, increased health insurance costs and staffing issues.

Mixson said the library has experienced some employee turnover this year; two branch managers have retired and two full-time employees have found work elsewhere.

He said right now he has $35,400 as a result of that turnover and may use that money to hire a few part-time employees, which could make opening on the weekend in some capacity a possibility.

"We’re going to talk about with what to do with the money we have. This is just trying to survive with the money we have given to us and trying to treat everybody the same with at least equal access (to the library)," Mixson said.

Bolt said the library is losing librarians to other counties "right and left."

"Other counties can afford to pay them so much more and they don’t have the furlough days," she said. "So its really hard to have the staff that we need."

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