It costs us less to stay in Flint Library system
For some years, the Flint River Regional Library System (FRRLS) has been using state taxpayer money to pay the salary of a senior librarian at the Fayette County Library.
Recently, the FRRLS, faced with the same budget constraints we all are facing, decided that they could no longer fund this salary. When the word reached the Fayette County Commission, some thought the county should withdraw from the FRRLS.
Not a good idea.
Our membership in FRRLS buys access to the PINES system, which is funded by the state of Georgia using our tax dollars. If we were to sever our contact with FRRLS, we’d lose our access to PINES. Yes, quitting FRRLS is the same as quitting PINES.
What does membership cost? And, what do we get for it?
The three FRRLS-member libraries in Fayette County (the Fayette County Library, the Peachtree City Library, and the Tyrone Library) pay FRRLS about $100,000 each year for membership. However, we receive from FRRLS about $226,000 in state and federal taxpayer funds. We would lose that money if we left FRRLS.
We also receive a number of benefits that depend on our membership. These benefits include:
· Free access to the Galileo databases, including free access to databases and sites like Ancestry.com and Consumer Reports. All of the databases are available at the library; most are also available on your home computer with a library card and a password.
· Free access to the 9.6 million items in collections of the nearly 300 libraries in the PINES system, and delivery of books from these libraries to your home library through the holds-courier system.
· Free access to downloadable audio and e-books (in multiple formats compatible with both iPad and Kindle) from the Georgia Download Destination web site.
· Computer software that includes the database of books in nearly 300 libraries, and which is used by our library staff to check out/in books.
· Free access when traveling to any of the nearly 300 PINES libraries in Georgia.
· Free Internet service at the library for both hard-wired terminals and laptops, iPads, and other devices with WiFi capability.
Could we afford to duplicate all this without membership in FRRLS and PINES?
Simple answer: No way!
Detailed answer: We would have to create, purchase, or adapt software to check out and check in books; we would have to pay a premium price for access to databases that are now free through the Georgia Public Library System; we would have to reissue library cards to all our patrons; we would have to find an Internet service provider to provide connectivity for the terminals at the library and for WiFi.
Our patrons would no longer be able to use their library card at the nearly 300 PINES member libraries. We would lose access to the audio and e-books in the Georgia Download Destination collection.
In 2005, the library staff estimated that the transition costs to a county library system would be $683,000; the annual costs, $327,000. With the new services added since then, the current price would certainly be higher. And, we would still pay taxes to the state: taxes that would support other libraries, but not ours.
Freedom cannot exist without information. Despite the mass of information on the Internet, the public library remains the best source of accurate and complete information. (That, by the way, is the first opinion in this letter. Everything else is strictly factual.)
Please ask the County Commissioners and Peachtree City Council to put this issue aside — permanently.
We must take back our government.
Peachtree City, Ga.