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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.

You might also enjoy reading:

  • Gwinnett BOC OKs 2013 Budget Amid Signs of Economic Improvement

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Patrick T. Malone January 04, 2013 at 04:02 PM
From the media accounts it appears the library problem is the Board, that is either incapable or unwilling to deal with the fiscal realities of the last four years. Let the library professionals operate the library but lets get some pragmatists on the board to set the strategic direction based on the fiscal realities of the time.
Rosemary Vollmar January 06, 2013 at 04:15 AM
First of all, don't copy Cobb County. Think for yourselves. Comm. Nash should ask her daughter, the librarian if she can't research on her own. The link I have listed gets grant monies and is willing to teach local library professionals how to write grant proposals. Public libraries are an American invention. They promote education by having free reference & research materials, newspapers and magazines, books, computers for out of work citizens to use for on-line job hunting, or tax form preparation, meeting rooms, lectures, reading and literacy programs. The better educated the citizen, the better employed the citizen. This leads to better quality of life. http://www.georgialibraries.org/gpls/AboutGPLS_0212.pdf A business model is a description of how your business intends to operate and make money. Public libraries are non-profits. OOPS. Businesses can also operate hybrid business models. For example, newspapers make their money from a mix of advertising revenue and the price they obtain for the newspaper. OK. How about asking the libraries to sell advertising space and print up some book marks. Some school districts in the country are placing ads on the school buses. Rosemary Vollmar
Kim Goff January 09, 2013 at 07:55 PM
The library card should be a debit card. Charge (on a sliding scale) for checking out a book. If you prove you make under a certain income, you use the library for free. I would gladly pay 50 cents or a dollar every time I checked out a new best seller. And they should charge more for e-books. If you can afford a Kindle or other e-reader - then you can pay a few books for each book. Budget crisis solved. Reference material would be free. Taxes do not need to provide the lastest Grisham novel for free.

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