Hamilton County residents might have to pay to use library - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County residents might have to pay to use library

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Kara Grooms, left, sits next to Patrick Hook as she uses one of the public computers at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Public Library to help in her job search.  \ John Rawlston Chattanooga Times Free Press Kara Grooms, left, sits next to Patrick Hook as she uses one of the public computers at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Public Library to help in her job search. \ John Rawlston Chattanooga Times Free Press

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - If Chattanooga takes over full funding of the public library system, library officials say people who live outside the city probably will start paying a fee to check out books or movies or use the computers. We asked residents what that will mean for them.

Jane Mitchell and her daughter hit the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library at least once a week.  She's a city resident, but is a bit uneasy at the thought of county residents facing a fine for using the library system.

"Maybe they can't pay the fee, if they live in the area, where would they go?" Mitchell asks.

As of the July first, the City of Chattanooga will be funding the library system that was once a partnership between the city and Hamilton County.

Interim Director for the library, Eva Johnston, says her main concern is keeping the library system up and running.  The city will fund the four locations including Broad Street, Eastgate, Northgate and the South Chattanooga branch, but not Collegedale.

Johnston says out-of-area fees are quite common for libraries.  The current fee is $10 a year for residents who live outside Hamilton County within a 50 mile radius, the fee is $40 in Knoxville and Atlanta, $50 in Memphis and Nashville.

Roxaline Bewley uses the library often.  She homeschools her young children.  Bewley says the $10 fee would not keep her from using the Downtown library.  But if she had to fork over cash every time she came to the library, that might be a different story.

Bewley says an annual fee to use the library, would still be cheaper than buying all the books her children read.

Johnston says, "Whatever we can do to keep the library open we will be happy to do it."

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry says if the Board of Directors passes the new fee, it will not be well received by many county residents. 

Henry also admits this is a very complicated issue that will take time for the Board to pass new policy on matters like this. 

The library board is made up of eight members appointed by the Chattanooga City Council and seven members appointed by the Hamilton County Commission.

Mayor Ron Littlefield's spokesman, Richard Beeland, said it's only fair for county residents to pay a fee because they won't be supporting the library directly.

 

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