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While a library in our community represents a physical location of literary and artistic materials, books, periodicals, newspapers, prints, video and audio collections, it also is a place where the residents of a community come together to access resources, reflect and share ideas.
When our family moved to Gainesville in 2007, I was shocked by the stark contrast in the physical condition of the Hall County libraries. We began our journey through the Hall County Library System at the Murrayville Branch. This library is nestled behind Lanier Elementary School on Thompson Bridge Road and has a collection serving children through adults, computers and a meeting room. Visiting weekly, our family used materials in the library and placed holds on materials not available at this location.
As my children grew, we needed more materials available and we wanted to visit on the weekends, so we started using the main library in Gainesville. We have enjoyed access to a more extensive collection of materials and the guidance of the children's librarians on staff.
This school year, we are in Clermont weekly, and thus we visit the Clermont branch. The first day, I walked through the single wooden door, I knew that our family would support funding for a new library.
The Clermont branch, like those in Murrayville and East Hall, remains closed on weekends. But unlike the other branches, it is located on the town square in a small building, an old home with one bathroom. There is no meeting room. The children's collection offers one table and a small collection in a room 8 feet by 10 feet.
The adult collection, reference materials and computers are in the main room. Water stains mark the ceiling throughout the building. But the residents come. On a given Monday, all three working computers are being used, families meet, gather books and share time together while other families and residents come into the library to pick up materials on hold, borrowed materials are shelved and the librarian helps patrons locate resources.
Our community has witnessed population growth during the last 10 years. New businesses and an expanded hospital system have attracted families to this quiet community. As our community grows, we have supported SPLOST and the projects designated.
The proposed North Hall library branch, approved March 2009, was first viewed as a project to be placed on land purchased in Clermont, thereby serving a community of residents who are in need of an improved library branch. When the Hall County commissioners voted (4-1) to locate the Clermont branch on Nopone Road, community residents raised questions regarding the change in location.
As The Times has reported, the issue of locating a library has surfaced many questions about the actions of our commissioners and the appointed Library System Board of Trustees. As a patron of the library system and a taxpaying resident, I would ask our commissioners: Why would you vote to effectively remove a library from our community by moving 7.5 miles from its current location, 14.6 miles from the Gainesville Library, and place it within 10 miles of the Gainesville and Murrayville locations?