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Georgia Public Library Service may change state funding formula

CONYERS — The Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) could be changing its state funding formula to allocate more money for paid librarian positions.

Deputy State Librarian Julie Walker said the new formula will be based on two factors: population and geography — the number of counties within a library system.

Since Rockdale and Newton counties are a single-county systems, there will be one paid librarian for the county and one per 80,000 in population.

Walker said those changes will go into effect July 2014, which is when the new fiscal year begins.

The 63 libraries in Georgia receive funding from state and local governments. Under the current funding formula established by the GPLS and the Board of Regents, state funds are distributed three ways: for paid librarian positions, materials grants and system services grants.

Conyers-Rockdale Library System Interim Director Ben Carter noted that the formula is a regular part of the state budgetary process.

“We’re funded by local agencies and the state, this (formula) is a state budget issue that the GPLS are working through,” Carter said.

The Conyers-Rockdale Library System is housed at the Nancy Guinn Memorial Library in Olde Town Conyers and has an annual budget of $1.3 million and a staff of 41 employees, according to its website, www.conyersrockdalelibrary.org.

“The directors agreed that the most important use for state funds should be to pay for salaries,” Walker said. “Local communities find it hard to fund the librarians and it’s easier to raise funds for books and other items needed through fundraisers or through the local government.”

She noted that over the past five years state funding has been cut every year.

“The library directors had to determine where do they make the cuts. After several years of everyone cutting out funds, it gave us a great opportunity to redo the formula,” Walker said.

Newton County Library System Director Lace Keaton said she’s unsure how the formula change would affect the three libraries in the county.

“It’s is a proposed formula. We don’t know what the outcome will be because the Legislature hasn’t met yet. We’re not even sure know about local funding for FY 2015, so right now I’m unsure how it (formula) will affect us,” Keaton said.