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New Business Model Urged for Gwinnett Library System

Gwinnett leaders think the libraries are necessary, but with a different approach.

After another million-dollar budget cut to the Gwinnett County library system, county leaders think it's time for that organization to change its approach.

"I would encourage the library to look at a new business model," Gwinnett District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard said Thursday (January 3) as the county's elected leaders passed the 2013 budget.

Amid a still-tight revenue situation, commissioners cut $1 million in materials from the library's budget, the latest of several large reductions to that system.

Howard noted that the library branches "need to be a community center," but that current plans of coping with their situation are "not working," and she pledged to do "anything I can do" to help.

-- What do you think the Gwinnett library system's business model should be? Do you think a digital solution is the answer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said the elected leaders are still pro-library. "My daughter is a librarian," Nash said. "But what does the model of the library of the future need to be?

"We still have to look at a model for the future."

Nash noted that the $1 million reduction in materials in 2013 was "not arbitrary. ... It does not involve staffing or operational changes."

She added that Gwinnett leaders used Cobb County as a model for their own decision, and that Gwinnett still was spending more on materials than did Cobb.

Nash acknowledged that a digital solution might be the answer for the libraries. For example, the Gwinnett school system already is phasing in eCLASS, which emphasizes digital learning over traditional textbooks.

Also, the use of e-readers such as Kindle has drastically changed the business models of book retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Aside from reducing operating hours, the library system has tried such fund-raising methods as advertising and private donations. Still, the reductions have continued.

(Editor's Note: This article first appeared on Suwanee Patch.)

Linda Newton January 05, 2013 at 01:15 PM
The Gwinnett Library already does a great job with digital material both through audio books and some great online video material. I download and listen to audio books and order the books I want delivered to my library continually. What I see when I go to the library is that it is a great community tool with helpful people that reach out to the total community. I have great respect for the Gwinnett County Commission charged with balancing a budget in challenging times but that does not take away from the outstanding job the library is already doing.
Debra Houston January 05, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Please don't be part of the trend of eliminating books, County Commissioners. Digital is not for everyone. The library is more than just a place to pick up books. It is a place where people can gather, ask questions, and learn from one another. We need our libraries more than ever. I'm proud of Gwinnett libraries and the people who work there. You can surely cut budgets without eliminating books.

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