New library board in Chattanooga looks at getting organized

New library board in Chattanooga looks at getting organized

August 30th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

The Public Library, formerly known as the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library, is at 1001 Broad St.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Interim library director Eva Johnston

Interim library director Eva Johnston


The City Council approved new members of The Public Library two weeks ago. The board members are:

  • Herbert Cohn
  • Tom Griscom
  • Mai Bell Hurley
  • Jim Kennedy III
  • Chrystal Partridge
  • Karen McMahon
  • Theresa Liedtka

Source: Chattanooga

A new city-only Public Library board will meet for the first time within weeks and already has plenty to keep members busy.

They have to choose officers, hire a new director and approve charges for noncity library users.

"I would love to get some input," said interim library director Eva Johnston. "And some help."

The library is in the midst of transformation from being a city-county jointly funded facility to a facility supported with city money only. That shift occurred when a 45-year-old sales tax agreement between the city and county expired in May.

The city decided not to renew the agreement and instead said it would pay 100 percent of the library support.

Only one library branch fell outside the city -- in Collegedale.

Collegedale has agreed to pick up the cost of operating that branch.

Library board member Herb Cohn said the first thing the board will do is meet on Sept. 20 and appoint officers. There will be some general housecleaning responsibilities, he said.

Charging fees to residents who live outside the city would be addressed quickly, he said.

"That's a major decision," he said. "You saw what happened in Collegedale."

The Collegedale library, once it became its own entity, began charging fees from $50 to $85 for users from outside the city.

Cohn, who has served on the board since 2000, said the library's having one source of major revenue means the board won't have to serve two masters.

"I think this is the best thing for the community and the library in a long, long time," he said.

Karen McMahon, a former city employee who helped put together a study on the library three years ago, now is on the library board.

She said she expects the board's first meeting to be largely organizational.

"We will have to establish a vision for the board," she said.

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