Local funds help library stabilize

By DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,

After dealing with drastic state budget cuts for more than a year, the Kemper-Newton Regional Library System has rebounded back to close to normal thanks to increases from local funding sources.

The Newton County Board of Supervisors voted to include a $15,000 increase in the fiscal year 2018 budget, bringing its total expenditure for the system to $90,000, making it the system’s biggest single funder.

“When I came in, our primary funder was the state and now the state gives less than both of our counties,” said Meredith Wickham, the KNRLS director. “To know that our local funding authorities value the libraries is so important to the community, and this season of funding decisions in the face of that historical cut from the state has been Wickham said Kemper County also increased is expenditure from $38,334 per year to $65,000 and the town of Scooba increased from $400 to $1,000.

She said that because of the increase in local funding, the system will be able to return to regular hours for the Newton branch.

Starting tomorrow, the Newton branch will now be open for seven hours each weekday, with its doors open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

For the past few months, the Newton branch has only been open from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and from 2-6 p.m. on Fridays. The branch will also no longer be closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.

“For working families and people who can’t get there before they close at 5 p.m., we hope that will give them a little more opportunity to use the library,” Wickham said. “We want them to have the best service possible so it’s really inspired us to do better than ever.”