Gwinnett library board passes measure to raise fees

Gwinnett County Library patrons will pay for services such as meeting room rentals and inter-library loans after action Monday night by the Board of Trustees.

The board approved five measures, set to take effect Feb. 1, that could raise revenues by more than $300,000 a year.

The Gwinnett Library System has an annual budget of $23 million, most of it ($18.9 million) funded through county tax dollars. Pending budget cuts of 10 percent this summer, plus the scheduled opening of a 15th branch in Hamilton Mill early next year, prompted library staff to come up with the measures.

The new policies include:

  • A $20 fee for meeting rooms. Currently, the library charges no fees. Staff estimate this measure will raise $11,000.
  • A charge of $2 per title for inter-library loans. Currently, there is no charge, but the library incurs a cost of about $2.58 per item in postage. Staff estimates this measure could raise $10,000.

  • Charges of $3 for out-of-county and $2 for in-county residents for computer use guest cards. Computer use for patrons with library cards will remain free, but those without cards who wish to use the computer will now have to pay. This measure is estimated to bring in $148,000 a year.
  • Lost or damaged materials. Under the new policy, libraries will no longer refund patrons who pay for lost materials, then seek reimbursement when the item is later returned. Officials estimate this measure will raise $2,500.
  • Lowering the block threshold. The new policy will set $15 as the fee limit patrons may run up before services are denied. The current threshold is $25. Staff anticipates this measure will raise $155,000.

Gwinnett County commissioners last week passed a tax rate increase, which will, in part, restore many library services. The tax rate increase has $1.8 million earmarked to keep all 15 branches open between 46 and 52 hours a week. Nevertheless, library officials said Monday they are not operating under the impression the money will be restored until the county officially adopts its 2010 budget in January.