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Library to be closed on Mondays

COVINGTON -- Newton County Library will be closed on Mondays effective July 1, Director Greg Heid announced this week.

Due to what Heid called "critical shortages in our funding" from the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the state, the library must further reduce its hours, staff and utility costs.

To date, the library budget has been slashed by $280,000, and in fiscal year 2011 another $100,000 will be cut.

Heid said the library has cut back on its service contracts, decreased purchases of books, reduced its staff and limited heating and cooling of the building to save money. This year, further utility savings have to be found to make up for the shortfall of funds, so the Newton County Library Board of Trustees agreed to reduce hours, he said.

The library will begin closing on Mondays in July to cut back on utility costs. To minimize the impact to customers, the library will add an hour to its daily operations Tuesday through Friday, meaning the total weekly hours will be reduced from 48 to 44.

"We were able to better streamline our hours of operation from Tuesday to Friday by adding one hour to each weekday of operation," Heid said. "Distributing four hours among the other days of the week, we will still be able to realize a savings in utility costs."

Hours have also been reduced at the Newborn Service Outlet, located at Newborn Town Hall.

In addition to reducing hours, one staff position has been cut and another reduced to part-time, Heid said.

In a letter to library patrons, Heid addressed concerns about lack of funds to purchase books for the Porter Memorial Branch Library currently under construction.

"We can assure you that we will have books, and other materials, in the future Porter Memorial Branch Library," Heid said. "Reduced costs that we have experienced while building the branch library will be used to purchase books for the new library. We are also raising funds from various private sources and businesses to purchase books and other materials for the new branch library."

County commissioners allocated $300,000 in the fiscal year 2011 budget to open the library on a limited basis from January through June of next year, Heid said.

"This is a very small and frugal budget that can only be used to operate the future branch library," he said. "However, it will allow us to open the new library at least four days a week to the public."

He said there will be four to five employees, most part-time, at the branch library.

Heid said the staff and Library Board of Trustees hope that once the economy improves and the library budget is increased, hours can be restored at the Covington location and extended at the new branch, which will be located on Ga. Highway 212 next to Oakhill Elementary School.