Athens Review, Athens, Texas

October 2, 2012

Head librarian proposes solution to budget cuts

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The Henderson County Commissioners Court Tuesday tabled a change in hours for the Clint W. Murchison Library in Athens.

Head Librarian Lori Lee suggested the change in response to a cut in the money set aside for part-time wages in the recently-passed 2013 county budget.

Lee proposed that the library be closed on Saturday, and the hours adjusted to 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.  The library is currently open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“We would still be open 40 hours to the public,” Lee said. “Right now we’re open 44 hours.”

Lee said the change would make it possible for a staff member to be at the library during open hours, without her or the assistant librarian having to take comp time. Lee explained that Friday afternoons and Saturdays were extremely slow times at the library, with Monday and Tuesday the busiest days.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence said he didn’t understand the need to lengthen the hours four days a week, and close on Saturdays.

“Surely, one of you could take off four or five hours during the week and work on Saturday,” Lawrence said. “I’m against changing it. I guess it depends on what everyone else wants to do.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin also questioned the suggested hour-change.

“I’m not necessarily against changing it,” Geeslin said. “I’m just probably against changing it the way you’ve proposed.”

Geeslin asked Lee what time of day the library typically saw its highest volume of patrons.

“If we’re going to shift hours, let’s shift them to the time of day where the people are coming,” Geeslin said.

Lee said the librarians are busy all day long on Mondays and Tuesdays, and are greeted by people waiting to come in at 9 a.m., just about every day.

“We essentially have to push them out the door at 5 p.m.,” Lee said.

Geeslin said he would like to see how the Athens library hours compare with others in the county, such as the Cedar Creek Library in Seven Points.

County Judge Richard Sanders suggested that the Commissioners table the item until Lee could provide more information.

In a related item, Commissioners approved policy for volunteers who wish to work at the Clint W. Murchison Library.

Commissioners also approved:

• a $5,403 match for a grant to the Meals on Wheels Ministry;

• allowing a Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigator to attend a Less Lethal Instructor Training class in Knoxville Tenn.;

•  allowing the purchase of a 1,500-gallon water tank for Precinct 2 Road and Bridge; and

• authorization of payment of bills in the amount of $252,697.