Though Hit by State Budget Cuts, Chattahoochee Valley Libraries System Plans No Reductions in Services

  The Chattahoochee Valley Libraries system has no plans to reduce services anytime soon, even though there is a budget crunch. That’s what Director Claudya Muller told me. The Chattahoochee Valley Libraries system is receiving less state money now, more than six percent less. She said she does not foresee services cut, at least, not until July of 2010, providing the state doesn’t levy more cuts.  Considering that library services are in greater demand during economic slowdowns, that is good news. 

    And the demand is definitely greater. Muller  told me that usage increased by eleven percent in October over October of last year. She definitely credited that to what’s happening to the economy. Demand is going to get even greater, not just because of the economy, but because of the influx of 30,000 more people into the area as the BRAC expansion at Fort Benning goes into effect. 

  So far the library is making up some of the state money lost by not filling two high-salary – high for Columbus (that’s my remark) – positions. We are talking a hundred thousand dollars.  One is a secretarial position and the other in the Genealogy Department. She hopes to use volunteers to pick up the slack.

  Muller says our library system has gone from worst in the state to third best, but she wants to even better than that.  For instance, she says the system gets $700,000 a year for new materials, when the national norm for the population size the system serves is $1.2 million. 

  How can it get more money? It can appeal to donors and it will, but counting on private charity for most of it is unrealistic. The Muscogee County School Board could raise the system’s tax millage. It’s now 1.5 mills.  Muller would like to see that increased to 2 mills over time.  It can do that since the school board can spend up to 5 mills on the library, the Columbus Museum, and the school crossing-guard program.

  There are even more complications to this story, such as funding for the new Mildred Terry Branch not keeping up with increased construction costs and the system having to dip into operating reserves to finish the branch. You have to wonder what would happen if those operating reserves were actually needed for operating expenses.

   Since most of us aren’t billionaires, we can’t pour money into the system to help it when it is needed most. But, we can give something that adds up to a lot of money saved for the libraries; we can give of our time. About 300 people now serve as volunteers. The time given amounts to what it would cost to pay seven full-time jobs at the library.

  I’m giving a paltry four hours each month clerking in the Friends of Libraries bookstore. I enjoy meeting all types of people who come in to buy very reasonably priced books; so I’ll have no problem at least doubling that. Also, I serve on the Friends board. If you love books (and CDs, DVDs, Audio Cassettes, computers, lectures, moivies) and want to support a very worthwhile asset to our community, join me in volunteering.  You are needed.

  And you will be treated to lunch at least ONCE A YEAR!

  Columbus Public Library Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

Columbus Public Library Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

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