published Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Walker, Dade library cuts taking effect

Tamara Reel  browses through books at the Rossville Public Library. Reel was visiting the library with her son, Jeremy, to play on the computers and check out a few books.
Tamara Reel browses through books at the Rossville Public Library. Reel was visiting the library with her son, Jeremy, to play on the computers and check out a few books.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.

Rossville Public Library

Monday closed

Tuesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Wednesday closed

Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sunday closed

Dade County Public Library

Monday closed

Tuesday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Wednesday closed

Thursday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Sunday closed

Chickamauga Public Library

Monday closed

Tuesday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Wednesday closed

Thursday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday 9 a.m. - noon

Sunday closed

LaFayette-Walker County Public Library

Monday closed

Tuesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Wednesday closed

Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sunday closed

It's official: North Georgia's Cherokee Regional Library's four branches will be closed on Mondays and Wednesdays, starting Monday.

Hours will be reduced to 30 hours a week — roughly a 25 percent cut — at the system's library branches in Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Trenton.

Those are some of the cutbacks prompted by an increase in state health insurance costs for part-time employees and an anticipated reduction in funds from the Walker and Dade school districts.

"The feedback [about reduced hours] I've primarily heard has usually been shock and dismay," said April Tinker, a library assistant at the Dade County Public Library in Trenton.

Services are being cut, too.

For example, the genealogy and local history room at the LaFayette-Walker County Public Library only will be open on Fridays and Saturdays because Jill Trubey, the employee in charge of the room, had her hours cut from 40 to 13 hours a week, Library Director Lecia Eubanks said.

Library youth education coordinators won't visit schools to promote the youth summer reading program, which probably won't be six weeks long next year, she said. The number of computers available to the public will be reduced by anywhere from one-quarter to one half, Eubanks said.

The library system has laid off three employees and cut five employees' hours to less than 171/2 hours per week, which makes them ineligible for health insurance. As of next week, the state is charging $8,916 annually for part-time employees who work more than 171/2 hours per week — which is more than some employees earn.

Previously, the library's health insurance contribution was about 20 percent of an employee's salary.

Walker County Schools has proposed to cut its funding to the library system from $59,000 to $25,000 annually. Dade County Schools has indicated it will cut its funding from the current $38,000 annually.

The state of Georgia provides 33 percent of a library's funding, but only if the local tax support is there.

"It has to stay constant. It can't dip below previous years' funding," Eubanks said.

She said she's concerned that, if the local money starts to dip below previous year's levels, state money may be taken away at the same rate.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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