Hancock County Library System future in discussion

Hancock County Library System future in discussion

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The future of the Hancock County Library System is in discussions. There are some people who want to explore options in the way the system is managed.

The system is currently running at full capacity, according to its executive director, Courtney Thomas. With five branches and 31 staff members, Thomas stays busy, but recently there have been talks of change.

A company well-versed in library privatization presented its case to the county for taking over the system.

"We hope that's not the future of Hancock County libraries, because we have one of the best libraries in the state," said Thomas.

If you ask Thomas, she would say it would be a mistake to privatize the system. The library system's board president is on the same page and adds that the current setup is ideal.

"We could not ask for a better staff or director to keep us on the go in the right direction in Hancock County," said Stephanie McConnell.

As for the board president, Blaine LaFontaine, this is just a discussion at this point.

"We're well aware that privatization may not be the answer, but we would like our local professionals and leaders to try to figure out the solution to what I believe is a problem in Hancock County," said LaFontaine.

He believes the problem comes in the form of budget. Even though the library is operating within the budget constraints, he said there might be ways to cut that back while maintaining quality service. That's what he wants to explore.
    
Thomas doesn't think that's possible.

"We've cut all the fat from our budget. We have already streamlined our budget. We have an extremely efficient business that we're running here as a library," Thomas said.

According to Thomas, the only way to cut the budget back further would be to reduce staff, services, or even locations. Those are areas that she's not willing to sacrifice.

LaFontaine is hoping to have a meeting sometime during the second week of February to continue the discussion. He invites the public to attend this meeting.

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