April 23, 2014

Library must reach decision soon

Four months ago the board of the Chatsworth-Murray Library announced it would leave the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System by June 30 of this year, the end of the library system’s fiscal year.

The board of the regional library system, which also includes the Dalton-Whitfield County Library and the Calhoun-Gordon County Library, asked Murray library officials to make their plans definite by the time of the regional board meeting in January.

They did not. Murray officials may have been waiting to see whether the regional system would follow through on plans to give the regional director the authority to hire and fire employees at the member libraries. The director currently has such authority only over employees of the regional system and the Dalton library.

Murray officials, who have looked at leaving the system in the past, value their independence and oppose any effort to give the regional director more power over their employees.

An amendment to the regional system’s constitution and bylaws to give the director more authority over employees of the individual libraries was tabled by the regional board earlier this year. But it isn’t dead, and most board members seem to favor the idea even if they can’t yet agree on the specific language.

So officials in Murray need to make a decision and they need to make it soon. Are they going to leave the system or remain?

That decision is complicated because state officials say they no longer fund new independent libraries, so unless Murray can join another regional system it risks losing state money.

Murray officials say they are in talks with other systems. But those talks can’t continue much longer. There’s a great deal of work in separating from one regional system and joining another. Databases have to be changed. Funding has to be properly allocated. Budgets need to be drawn up. It would be unfair to all involved to try to do all of that at the last minute.

Murray officials must decide soon whether the Murray library will leave the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System or remain a member at least for the next year.

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