Roni Tewksbury is hoping to convince the council that the city’s public library — Neva Lomason Memorial — needs more money to operate as she believes it should.
“My main purpose is I want to be able to have a time where I can simply tell them this is how our funding works,” Tewksbury said. “It’s a convoluted thing. I want to explain it to them so that they can see how it works.”
The West Georgia Regional Library System is comprised of 18 branches in five counties — Carroll, Haralson, Heard, Douglas and Paulding. The library system is headquartered at Neva Lomason, the Carrollton branch.
A big part of Tewksbury’s challenge Monday night, she said, will be getting the council to understand how the library system as a whole is funded, and what part of that money goes to Neva Lomason. City officials, she said, tend to see only the money that goes to the library system.
“I feel confident that they’ll come away with a better understanding of how the library system is set up and how Neva Lomason fits into the picture,” she said.
The library receives $230,904 from the city during fiscal year 2013 and $71,989 from the county. It also gets a state materials grant of $11,491.
In contrast, Tewksbury said, the Villa Rica Public Library, which is also a part of the regional library system, receives $308,000 from the Villa Rica city government.
But she points out that the Villa Rica library has less than half the circulation materials of Neva Lomason, that its “patron use” is 115,393 compared to Neva Lomason’s 228,602, and that Carrollton’s library has 18,000 square feet – 13,000 more than Villa Rica’s.
Bowdon’s library, a third Carroll County branch in the system, receives $157,556 from its city government. Its patron use, according to Tewksbury’s figures, is 27,238.
Tewksbury said Neva Lomason’s projected expenses this year are $359,422.
She said an additional $25,000 from the city would allow her to re-open the library on Fridays. That day was cut from the schedule in September due to budget concerns. Daily hours had previously been reduced in September 2011.
Councilman Gerald Byrd said that after “much persistence” he convinced the city to put the library issue on Monday’s agenda.
“My advice to Roni was to come up with a PowerPoint for the City Council so all the members could see it. Make it as black and white and plain as possible and present it to us,” he said.
Lynn Kress, a member of the Friends of the Library, a Neva Lomason support group, hopes strength in numbers will help make the library’s case Monday night. She sent an email to the organization’s members urging them to attend the meeting. Friends President Mary Jane Davis is scheduled to address the council during the public comments portion of the council session.
“The West Georgia Regional Library System covers five counties, and each of the other branches is supported proportionately much better by their city government,” Kress said. “If you look at the numbers as far as circulation, number of patrons, and square footage of library and take the amount funded by that city, it so far exceeds what Carrollton is giving us.”
The Friends of the Library, with an estimated 150 dues-paying members, donates about $1,000 a month to Neva Lomason through its Barker House book sales. There is also money raised twice a year through “garage” sales of books, and the Friends will match donations made to the library.
Opponents of awarding more money to the library cite, among other things, dwindling usage in a digital age if iPads and Kindles.
Byrd said that hasn’t been evident in his experience with the library.
“The masses are pretty much saying they want their library and they want it sustained,” he said. “I would personally like to have a library that is a showplace and that sets the standard for what a library of a town of this size should be. I also hope that our library will continue to meet the needs of all of our citizens and ultimately meet and exceed those expectations.”
Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.