January 18, 2014

Murray library looking for new affiliation

Charles Oliver
charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com

— The Chatsworth-Murray Library could be leaving the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System, potentially leading to a loss of state funding if it doesn’t join another regional system.

The library’s board sent a letter to the regional system and to the state library system on Dec. 23, 2013, stating that the library intends to withdraw from the system as of June 30.

“The reason for this action is to find a library system that’s more compatible with Chatsworth-Murray County, where there is clear and open communication. We also would like more representation and input in decision-making,” said the letter signed by Chatsworth-Murray Library Board Chairman Emily Cogburn.

Cogburn was out of town last week and could not be immediately reached. Dianne Davis, co-branch manager, deferred all questions to Cogburn.

The regional system currently consists of Chatsworth-Murray, the Calhoun-Gordon County Library and the Dalton-Whitfield County Library and is headquartered in Dalton. The regional system orders and receives materials and catalogues them for member libraries. It also handles technology, accounting and other services for them and receives state funding for them.

Linda Floyd, director of the regional system, said she believes system officials have tried to work with Murray County library officials to resolve any issues between them. She also noted that the Murray County library has looked at leaving the regional system three times since 2005.

“This isn’t something new,” she said.

Floyd said that when the Chatsworth-Murray board met two weeks ago members agreed they would give the regional board a definitive statement on their plans when the regional board meets on Jan. 28.

Murray County Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman says she does not know what the library’s board plans to do.

“I am scheduled to meet with them (this) week,” she said. “But I have not had the opportunity to discuss this with them.”

The letter from Murray County did not indicate what other regional system the library plans to join. Anita Summers, deputy director for the Sequoyah Regional Library System, says she isn’t aware of any talks with Murray County.

“Our director is out of town, but I’m sure she would have told me if there were,” she said. “And we just had a board meeting, and if we had any sort of formal request, I’m sure she would have brought it before the board.”

The Sequoyah system covers Gilmer, Pickens and Cherokee counties and is headquartered in Canton.

Deputy State Librarian Julie Walker said the Murray library could lose state funding if it doesn’t join another regional system.

“For the last four years, I think, there has been a moratorium on single-county library systems,” she said. “Since state support for library systems has been reduced and reduced every year, we realized that we can’t slice the pie any thinner.”

Walker said whether Murray County goes independent or joins another region, there is quite a bit of work that needs to be done before June 30, if that is when the library intends to leave the Northwest system.

“I really think they’ll need at least three months lead time to get everything done, so that on July 1 all their materials are assigned correctly, all their patrons are assigned correctly, the state grant is allocated correctly,” she said.