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Library hours could stay same, for now
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Hall County Library System Director Adrian Mixson is recommending operating hours at the branches stay the same for now, even as economic conditions show some glimmer of hope.

“We did lay off 20 people about five years ago and ...when you open the doors, you got to have somebody there to serve the people,” he told the Hall County Library Board on Tuesday night.

Chairman Andy Henderson said the system’s goals include eliminating furlough days for employees, restoring library hours and restoring the staff.

“Not necessarily in that order,” he said. “You can’t get more (operating) hours if you can’t get more staff.”

The library system still is trying to rebound from economic hardship when the country lapsed into the Great Recession five years ago. In addition to cutting staff, the library system scaled back hours at all its branches.

“I think we’re seeing the wheel turn a little bit,” Henderson said. “We’re moving in a more positive direction economically in the county. I keep hearing we’ve got a surplus for this, that and the other, so I’m hoping we’ll see some of that.”

He also noted the county’s discussion of a vote for a new five-year round of special purpose local option sales taxes, which will go before voters in a referendum this fall.

“I want to make sure we are included in the SPLOST discussion,” Henderson said.

The library board did vote later in the meeting to seek inclusion in the SPLOST vote for$2 million of renovations to the main branch in downtown Gainesville and $300,000 per year over five years, or $1.5 million, for new books.

“I think (SPLOST) is going to be a difficult sell, and I think the library and the Friends of the Library and every library supporter could probably make a difference as to whether it passes or not,” Henderson said.

Mixson said the system has yet to receive the county’s budget for the library, but officials have gotten news on health insurance costs.

“We’re not looking at any increases for library employees,” he said.

Otherwise, Mixson said he expects the system will end the fiscal year about 3 percent under budget, “so we’re in pretty good shape.”