West Point City Council will have a lot to consider when looking at how to provide library services next year.
When council got a request from Hawkes Library for $23,000 in 2013, they already had in hand a proposal from the Troup-Harris Regional Library system, outlining how a merger between Hawkes and the regional system could look.
Hawkes is an independent library, Troup-Harris operates libraries in LaGrange, Hogansville and Hamilton in Harris County and is part of the statewide system.
“The council is still considering all the options,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson IV. Council will hold a public hearing on the budget Nov. 27 and vote Dec. 10.
“By joining the Troup-Harris regional library, your area will have access to 9.6 million materials statewide, at no charge to your users,” said Michael Schuermann, regional director. “Considering approximately 11,000 items are currently held at Hawkes, this would realize an expansion of nearly 900 percent.”
Access to the state system also would give Hawkes ebooks and other downloadable media, as well as broadband Internet at no cost.
If Hawkes were to merge with the regional system, the library services would have to expand to another building.
“The Hawkes Library, while historic and an aesthetic pleasure, lacks flexibility and is unable to provide a full program of services,” Schuermann said. “Your wide demographic requires support not just as a community of readers, but as a community needing modern technological access and vocational assistance.”
The city could look at using part of the youth services building on O.G. Skinner Drive or perhaps a building downtown, he said. The Hawkes building, which is on the national register of historic places, would still be used as a meeting place and for public events.
To join the statewide system, West Point would have to pay a regional fee based on population. The fee is about 20 cents per capita.
The proposed budget for Hawkes includes two part-time staff and a full-time manager. The library currently has just one full-time employee and volunteers. Hawkes has asked for one part-time staff member, which would allow the library to increase its hours, in its proposed 2013 budget.