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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Gwinnett library cuts: expect longer waits, event changes

My heart sank when I saw the headline: “Gwinnett libraries cut hours.”

I rely on a different library system for the stack of books next to my bed, but it’s always sad to see fun stuff going away. Like every system, they’re part of the Bad Economy=Busy Library trend. Library program usage is up 30 percent there since last year, spokeswoman Michelle Long said, and as June ended, the system broke its Summer Reading Program record with 33,000 kids and teens participating.

“The reason being that programs are free,” Long said. (And let’s not forget: air conditioned.)

Unfortunately, that bad economy also means it’s hard to keep funding levels up. Long says they’ve been “very, very, very lucky,” in the past, but this time, a proposed tax increase failed and the county had to make cuts. As of Aug. 9, the 14-branch system will close Sundays and Monday and the rest of the week at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

So what’s going away?

  • The annual Gwinnett Reading Festival is suspended. “That’s the biggie,” Long told me.
  • The budget for new books, databases, DVDs and other materials was cut by 8 percent. That doesn’t yet mean huge resources will disappear, but they’ll order only eight copies of a book, instead of 10. What does that mean to you? Longer waits.
  • On the topic of longer waits, courier service between libraries will stop on weekends, so if you reserve a book online, it could take longer to get to your branch.
  • Branch-specific special events, like author events, will be reduced. Regular storytimes etc. will continue, but the one-time-only-at-one-branch won’t.
  • Events after Aug. 9 will probably change times because of the new schedule. To confirm whether an event will continue, call the library helpline at 770-978-5154 or check online.

And what kind of library fun is likely to stay?

So far, programs like “Let’s Talk,” and the Summer Reading Program are expected to continue. Regular branch storytimes and system-wide events are safe. Adult and teen programming will be cut back, but most children’s programming will stay.

What do you say, folks? How often do you use the library, and what do you use it for? Any favorites?

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