The last several weeks have been a time to reflect on all the calls and emails I have received concerning our ever degrading conditions at the Newton County Libraries. I cannot imagine walking into a library as a child or even as an adult and not be stunned at the disgrace some would refer to as a "Library."
When I was a child, the library was located underneath the courthouse. Properly managed by Mrs. Harry Dietz who was as dedicated to her work and the children of Newton County as any person could ever be. My children mostly used the library at the old post office building and it too was a fine representation of what proud citizens would support for the benefit of the community.
What we have now is a big mess. Do we not care about our children's ability to have a place to go and learn? Where there is no order, there is chaos. Where there is chaos, there is no benefit to anyone.
To start at the beginning, I have no insider information on what has transpired, only comments from patrons. Here is what I have learned from them:
In losing "Bob," we lost a local treasure of a man who loved his work and loved his patrons at the library. It is the general opinion that without question, Bob should have been the new director of the library. It seems he left us in frustration. Maybe he left not so because he didn't get the job but what he saw in the new management. I can only guess. If I were in charge, I would go find Bob and put him in that position today.
Then we hear about the budget. I suppose that is a function of the Newton County Board of Commissioners. Continued talk about buying a railroad when our library is in disarray is criminal, thoughtless and ill conceived. The latest excuse is so we can run pipes to Baxter, the new industry that has been touted so highly in recent times. Do you know how many other communities (19,000) in the country have bought railroads to run pipelines? Probably none. And why not redirect our hotel/motel tax specifically for the library? Or why not have our special projects manager write grants for the library instead of working on a walking trail that may be used by some hundreds of people each year at a cost of over $10 million dollars when completed?
There are around 90,000 people in the county. More than 20,000 of those are children. Of those 20,000, a good percentage of them use the library every day or at least every week. Does anyone see a priority deficit here?
Fix this problem, and fix it today. We don't need to hire a consultant or do months of study to determine the problems and the solutions. With all the hype from candidates running for public office, how many of you have heard any of them discuss this major problem in our community, much less support the library or offer solutions?
From "The Music Man"
Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital "T"
That rhymes with "P"
And that stands for Pool,
That stands for pool.
We've surely got trouble!
Right here in River City,
Gotta figger out a way
To keep the young ones moral after school!
Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble...
Samuel M. Hay, III is a native Newton County resident who is an inventor, political activist, environmentalist and former candidate for Governor of the State of Georgia.