With signs in hand, a big group gathered at the Hancock County Library Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday to show their support for reopening the East Hancock Library. (Photo source: WLOX)
DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) -
The future of Diamondhead's library remains in limbo. Hancock County supervisors just approved a plan to take $42,000 from its gaming fund and redirect it to the East Hancock County Library in Diamondhead. Supervisors believe that action will give library staffers the money they need to restock bookshelves.
However, WLOX News just learned the Hancock County Library System board of trustees has no plans to reopen the Diamondhead library. According to library system executive director Courtney Thomas, "The East Hancock Library will reopen when we have a firm commitment to fully fund it."
In fiscal year 2015, the library system budgeted $271,977 to operate that facility, far less than the $42,000 earmarked by supervisors at Monday's meeting. "$42,000 is wonderful and we would love to have it to put back in our budget," Thomas said. But, then she reiterated, "The only thing that will reopen that location is a commitment to fully fund that library."
Hancock County supervisor Lisa Cowand said reopening the Diamondhead library was important because so many people demanded it. The board president told WLOX News, "If $42,000 is what it takes to keep the library open, then by all means we should do what we can to keep it open."
Back in September, the Hancock County Library System board voted to close the Diamondhead branch after supervisors decided to cut funding.
Last week, supporters signed petitions that urged the library board to do whatever was necessary to reopen the Diamondhead branch. At the time, the library system's executive director Courtney Thomas told WLOX News that without new funds, "The status of opening that library doesn't look very good." She stressed the library would remain closed unless funding was restored.
Days later, Hancock County supervisors approved a new funding source, believing that money could help reopen the library.
Thomas says it's her library board, and not Hancock County supervisors, who determine how library funds get spent. "The position of our board hasn't changed," the library system's director said. "At this point, there are no plans to reopen the Diamondhead library."