The library board heard citizens at length about a problem that was apparently news to the board, later considered the problem at length, came up with an interim solution, and formed a committee to examine it longterm.
Citizen concerns about rules against after hours library use
Concerns were raised about hours at the southside library at the monthly meeting of the South Georgia Library Board, 18 September 2012. Apparently rules have recently been changed for all library branches so that meetings can no longer be held after library hours. This is a problem for volunteer groups composed of working people. It was unclear what the latest version of the rules is. And the library board appeared unfamiliar with the hours of its own libraries. However, they did at the end of their meeting extensively consider the issue and apparently come to an interim solution with a path to a more general solution.
The rules change may have been due to one incident at one branch (not the southside branch) for which the library board knew the sponsoring organization. Questions were raised as to why a blanket rules change ensued. One citizen pointed out that taxpayers pay for the library buildings so it's not clear why they should be prevented from using them; school buildings, too. Another consideration was elderly parent care, because it's hard to get help for that any time other than during the day. Kay Harris wanted to be sure everyone who wanted to speak had spoken. At least one citizen left a written statement for the record, which is always a good idea. Then all the citizens who had spoken left the meeting, apparently uninterested in anything else the library board was doing. Interestingly, a southside library support group was in one of the regular report items.
After the other citizens left, one of the library board (his nameplate said Ray Devery) asked whether Gretchen could stay. Kay Harris without hesitation said yes and moved on to approval of the minutes. Congratulations to Kay Harris on knowing the open meetings law and sticking to it! Speaking of the minutes, where are they so the taxpaying public can see them?
Regular businessRegular board business included circulation, story time, and carpet restoration.
Lanier County "volunteered" prison labor for library uses, a technology report (which included nothing about Internet access), finances revenues exceeded expenditures, yet the state cut more than $86,000, payroll, insurance webinar, and staff turnover.
There was a community relations development report, including festivals, kindle use, 751 total facebook likes and 200,000 reach.
Regarding the planned Five Points library, Kay Harris clarified that staff are not supposed to help promote that "in any way, shape, or form." During paid hours. After hours is different.
Board discussion of after hours library use
A library board that is approving furlough days is not in a good position to extend library hours. Kay Harris proposed suspending the rules for southside library and revisiting the general rules at next month's board meeting. They considered leaving after hours use decisions to local branches. They wanted to know how much after-hours use is there, anyway? They discussed fiduciary responsibility for library branches. They discussed lead time for approving new groups for after-hours use. As near as I can tell, they decided to suspend the current after-hours rules for southside library, have Kay Harris appoint a committee to look into the situation, and revisit the rules in general at their next meeting. I can't tell when they actually voted on any of that. However, library director Kelly Lenz has confirmed by telephone that that's what they decided.
Here's a video playlist:
South Georgia Library Board
southside library hours,
Monthly Meeting, South Georgia Library Board (SGLB),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 18 September 2012.
The library website still has no list of library board members. We know Kay Harris is the Valdosta-Lowndes County Library Board Chair, and other members include Cheryl Copeland Director of Testing for Valdosta City Schools and Barry Barr Branch Manager of Stifel Nicolaus, because they were reappointed by the Lowndes County Commission 26 June 2012 (reappointed in the case of Kay Harris).
Other names can be read from their nameplates (left to right): Patrick Spurlock, Deborah Antonoff (who appeared to be taking notes), Kelly Lenz, Wynette Dobard, and Bernard Bulemu. According to the library's website, Kelly Lenz is Valdosta Lowndes County Library Director. Is she also a board member? Are some of the other people staff or board members? (They're staff; see below.)
And which library board was meeting? The library website events page shows two boards meeting at the same time, 1PM 18 September 2012: South Georgia Regional Library Board and Valdosta-Lowndes County Library Board. The board members themselves had to discuss which board needed to decide the after-hours library use question.
Calling the main library number, 229-333-0086, the operator transferred me to "somebody who will know" who is on the library board, which got voicemail. Calling the County Commission, 229-671-2442, they had to check to see if they had the correct list. Then they sent me this message:
Please contact the Library Director, Kelly Lenz, ph. #: 229-333-0086 to get the information you requested regarding the board members for the Library Board.
I asked which board was that? She said it was the South Georgia Regional Library Board. She said the Valdosta-Lowndes County Library Board differs only in excluding the Echols and Lanier County representatives, and "we don't have representatives from those counties at the moment." I asked if all the other members were appointed by the Lowndes County Commission. She said that was correct. I noted that Commission didn't seem to know who was on her board, and had referred me to her. She said she didn't know why they wouldn't.
I asked who the other people at the table were. She said they were Wynette Dobard (Business Manager), Bernard Bulemu (Assistant Director), and Patrick Spurlock (Community Relations Coordinator), and Laura Atkinson (Assistant Business Manager).
She also confirmed that the board had suspended the after-hours rules for southside library and appointed a committee to look into the more general rules situation, and added that the committee has not reported back yet. I thanked Kelly Lenz for supplying all this information. She thanked LAKE for videoing the meeting, which is refreshing.