Schaefer to stay as library system director

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By Nick Nunn, staff writer

At the quarterly meeting of the Uncle Remus Regional Library System (URRLS) board meeting on Jan. 9, URRLS Director Steve Schaefer informed the board that Dr. Lamar Veatch, the current State Librarian for the Georgia Public Library Service, announced his intention to retire on June 30.

According to Schaefer, the directors of Georgia’s library systems will suggest three potential candidates, one of whom the Board of Regents will ultimately choose to replace Veatch.

“We look forward to new leadership,” said Schaefer, who hopes that the next state librarian will prioritize funding and the purchase of books as the most important objectives for the state’s libraries.

Given the upcoming change in state leadership, Bonnie Hicky, URRLS board member, recommended that the board retain Schaefer as director during the transition.

Hicky stated that Schaefer has been acting as interim director for URRLS until the board has a chance to find a permanent director but said that Schaefer’s experience and contacts would be “invaluable” during the selection of the new state librarian.

“He’s our inside man,” said Hicky. “We can’t get rid of Steve.” The board affirmed Hicky’s recommendation, and Schaefer accepted the board’s request that he stay on through the transition.

Schaefer also informed the board of the dispute over the new funding formula for state libraries, which was recently approved by the board of directors.

Schaefer described the funding formula, which would create a distribution of state funding to library systems based on population and area criteria, as a “good and fair formula.”

“That fight is still going on,” said Schaefer concerning the debate over the funding formula. Although Schaefer stated that the recently approved formula is “on solid ground,” he said that he is “very worried” about its security during the transition of the state librarian.

“We hope the formula will stay until July 1,” said Schaefer. The board also amended its constitution and bylaws to clarify and expand the scope of the term “immediate family member” to eliminate the possibility of nepotism creating an issue within URRLS, as it has in other systems.

A second amendment clarified the board’s employment responsibilities to state that the board only employs the library director, who then makes the decision to employ or terminate library managers and other staff.

This amendment was prompted by issues other library systems were having with hiring and firing liabilities. “I love it when we can benefit from the pain of others,” said Schaefer.

“You really cannot be too safe.” Schaefer also informed the board that the entire system is now on the Level 3 Network for their internet access and that the service has “really done wonders” with the internet speed at all of the regional libraries.

Looking at the financial report for the Morgan County branch of URRLS, which is at 55 percent of its total expenses six months into the fiscal year, Schaefer said that the library is “doing fine” and is just about where it should be expected to be.

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