After several years of cuts to its budget and services, the Dalton-Whitfield Library plans to expand both next year.
The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners recently approved a 2014 budget that increases its share of funding of the library to $236,120 in 2014 from $162,000 this year.
“We are thrilled with the increased funding,” library director Linda Floyd said. “We had to close on Mondays back in 2009, and we constantly have patrons asking when we will open on Mondays again. This money will allow us to reopen on Mondays. We’ve first got to hire some part-time people to do that, but we hope to have those people hired by Feb. 1.”
Floyd said the library also plans to bring its summer reading program into two county schools for the first time next year.
“We realize that some children may not be able to get to the library for the summer, so we are taking the program to them at a couple of schools that are not close to the library,” she said.
Floyd said the schools haven’t been chosen yet.
But the biggest change will be a new programs focused on adult education and workforce development.
“We are very excited about that,” she said.
The library plans to renovate its basement level, which currently has offices.
“We plan to have some classrooms there, and we will have laptops for people to use,” she said. “We can teach computer classes. We can do some literacy classes for both math and reading. We want to teach classes on workplace etiquette and behavior. Even with high unemployment, we still have many jobs that go unfilled. We want to do what we can to bring people up to speed so they can get some of these jobs.”
Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb said the workforce development program is a major reason the county increased its funding this year.
“We have made economic development a major priority with the Carbondale Business Park and offering 100 percent freeport and other incentives,” Babb said. “But we also have to have a workforce that is attractive to businesses if we are to grow.”
The Dalton City Council held its share of library funding steady at $162,810 for 2014, but City Administrator Ty Ross said the council plans on providing about $38,000 for new equipment when it passes its capital budget next year.
“This is for the workforce development initiative. The mayor and council think this is a very important program. It’s something they haven’t done before, so that’s why we are doing it separately,” Ross said. “We will do this when we do all of our other capital spending. That will be after we close our 2013 budget, which will be a month or two into the year.”