Collegedale Library reopens, county residents forced to pay
COLLEGEDALE, TN. (WRCB) -- After a short hiatus, the library in Collegedale reopened for business Monday. It has a new name, operates under ownership and has some new policies.
The library was part of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Public System, but funding was cut when a long-time sales tax agreement between the city and county expired in May.
Now there are new rules about who can use the library, and what materials are available to patrons.
Collegedale city leaders felt it was important to keep the library open. They raised property taxes to fund operations, but some loyal patrons say they won't use it anymore.
"I didn't want it to close even though I still have access to the Chattanooga library," says patron, Joanne Rozell.
It's opening day at a familiar landmark, what was the Ooltewah-Collegedale Library is now the Collegedale Library.
"There's something about a book that's better than a magazine or a newspaper," Rozell says. "I just like them."
Rozell is a Collegedale resident, and has been on pins and needles since the library closed two weeks ago. Even though reopening costs her an extra $80 a year in property taxes, she says it's worth it.
"If I couldn't have used the Chattanooga Library I would have paid to use this one," she says.
That's what Hamilton County residents now have to do to now use the Collegedale Library. A family card costs $85 per year, an individual card costs $60 a year, a senior card costs $50 a year, and a three month pass costs $30.
"A lot of people can't afford it," says former patron, Stephanie Hinds. She's one of the many who will go somewhere else before paying a fee. The Collegedale Library is closer to home, but Hinds says the price tag is too high.
"I'm glad it's here for the people that can use it, but we'll have to go somewhere else," she says.
Another big change is patrons no longer has access to books and materials from the Chattanooga Public Library System.
The Collegedale Library is part of an Inter-Library Loan System, which means books that aren't available can be sent by mail. Patrons will have to pay a five dollar postage fee.
"This really limits my library use," says Charlene Scott. "It's been a disappointment."
Still others are willing to pay, and glad city leaders stepped up to save the library in a time when many have been forced to close for good.
"The budget and the economy are causing problems for Libraries all over," says Head Librarian, Joanne Stanfield. "We feel fortunate that we're open."
Right now the library policies only allow Hamilton County residents to purchase membership cards. This excludes hundreds of people from Bradley and Catoosa Counties who used the library before it closed.
City leaders hope to amend the policy soon. The commission meets again on September 6th.