Local News

April 22, 2014

Murray library, regional system still far apart

Murray County officials say they will announce soon if they will follow through with their plan to take the Chatsworth-Murray Library out of the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System.

“We have a local board member who is actively talking to other regional systems (about partnering with the Murray library),” said Marcia Kendrick, a member of both the Murray and regional library system boards, Tuesday night at a meeting of the regional board in Chatsworth.

Kendrick declined to say who that board member is except to say it isn’t her. She did say that board member plans to meet this week with representatives of one system. She declined to name that system.

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.

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

Finding another regional system to accept them will be a key to Murray’s plans.

Deputy State Librarian Julie Walker said in January 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.”

Kendrick said officials in Murray County have philosophical differences with Linda Floyd, who was hired as director of the regional system last year.

“This director is very different from previous directors. Previous directors recognized our authority to hire and fire our own staff. We worked very independently. That’s the way it has been done for 50 years,” Kendrick said.

Floyd said she and other regional officials have tried to work with Murray County officials to resolve any issues. But she said the libraries that make up the regional system are not “three islands.”

“Georgia state statute defines the responsibilities of a regional library director and one of those is to recommend for hire the employees (of the library),” she said. “The regional director is responsible at the state level for all the branch libraries. If you are responsible for an employee but do not have actual authority over that person, then the system really doesn’t work that well.”

The current constitution of the regional library system, however, does not give the regional director that authority over employees of the branch libraries. The board of the regional library system tabled during a meeting earlier this year an amendment to the system’s constitution that would give the system’s director the authority to recommend the hiring and firing of staff at member libraries.

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