Dacula Branch Closing Information
Many citizens have taken the time to express their thoughts concerning the library staff's recommendation and Library Board's decision to close the Dacula Branch in order to open the Hamilton Mill Branch. Please be assured that each of your comments is and will be considered in a serious manner. The library is gratified to learn that so many residents in Dacula and the entire county have passionate support for their local libraries.
Hopefully, the letter below will give you the background that led to the August 11th decision to close the Dacula Branch. The Library Board has given indications that the decision will be reviewed at the scheduled September 22nd Library Board meeting.
August 13, 2009
Dear Gwinnett County Citizens,
Along with citizens and agencies all over Gwinnett County, the Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) must continue to make very difficult decisions about how to make the best use of the financial resources available to us. As you know from my July 7, 2009 letter, the library has already made reductions to re-align library services with the already reduced personnel and resources. If the County Commissioners vote on their CY2010 budget in January in its current configuration, GCPL will be forced to make further reductions. These reductions will include personnel. The further lack of adequate staffing will result in the closing of two branches somewhere in the county.
County and State funding accounts for nearly 92% of the library's revenue, so when these government agencies see a reduction in revenues, it trickles down to other government-supported agencies such as the library. The library is grateful for the financial support it has received and is grateful for the support it is getting now.
Painful ideas are being broadly discussed and decisions made that would never have been considered during normal economic times. A well thought-out but controversial decision based on staff's recommendation was made by a three to one vote of the Library Board on August 11, 2009 to open the Hamilton Mill Library. This will be accomplished by closing the Dacula library that was opened on April 15, 2006.
The county did plan to allocate funds to begin the hiring of staff for the Hamilton Mill Branch. The unexpected severe decline in the county's revenue caused a change in their ability to fund this new initiative. The projected cost to open and annually operate the Hamilton Mill Library is $1,400,000.
Why the Dacula Branch?
- The Dacula Branch is the only one in that part of the service area with the number of staff that would be needed to operate Hamilton Mill. Both the Buford and Dacula branches are located within about seven miles of Hamilton Mill. The Buford branch is a 10,000 square foot facility. Both Dacula and Hamilton Mill are 20,000 square feet. Naturally, it would be our desire to keep all 14 of the current locations open for extended hours, seven days per week and located as conveniently to customers as possible. We believe that is the service model expected by the citizens of Gwinnett County. It is simply not financially feasible at this time.
- There are other libraries that could be closed but none in this same area of the county. Again, in January, after Gwinnett County officially adopts a CY2010 Budget, we expect to announce the closings of two other branches which will further impact library services overall and of course the customers in those areas.
- The fairly new Dacula collection can be used for a majority of the opening day collection at Hamilton Mill. This is a cost savings to that capital project.
- The Hamilton Mill Library was funded with citizen generated SPLOST funds and a $2,000,000 grant from the State of Georgia. Stipulations attached to the State funding could be in jeopardy if the building is not fully operational within a designated time frame.
- The Hamilton Mill Library is a 'green facility' and is expected to be awarded the Silver Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification upon its completion. This facility is designed for efficiency.
- The Dacula Branch will provide badly needed space for other library activities that support the entire county. Staff members have been considering multiple uses for the Dacula facility as we retool our system to more efficiently serve the whole of Gwinnett County including all the residents of Dacula. There are plans developing for the re-purposing of the facility. One project that is very important to the future resources of the library is to be able to collect retrospective fiction and add depth to other areas of the system collection such as local history resources. It will also cut down on the costs of Inter-Library Loans for items not owned by the library.
We do appreciate your support as we travel into new territory. Please know that we are continuously trying to find creative ways to improve the library's service to the entire Gwinnett community. The library staff strives to maintain a transparent organization that is open to feedback. We are committed to developing sustainable responses to feedback that strengthen and enhance core library services for the entire county both now and for the future.
Gwinnett County Public Library