A new survey conducted between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30 shows patrons as being pleased with the libraries that serve Cherokee, Pickens and Gilmer counties and their staff members.
The survey asked questions related to staffing, programming, buildings and the availability of books and other library materials. System Director Susan White said 536 people completed the survey.
Ninety-eight percent said they were either "satisfied" or "really satisfied" with staff at the libraries.
"I feel good that the staff is doing a good job," Ms. White said, noting the system employs 110 people.
The system includes six libraries in Cherokee: Ball Ground Public Library, the Cherokee County Law Library in Canton, Hickory Flat Public Library, R.T. Jones Public Library in Canton, Rose Creek Public Library in Towne Lake and Woodstock Public Library. It also oversees the Pickens County Public Library and the Gilmer County Public Library.
Ninety-five percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the library's hours of operation. Ninety-eight percent were satisfied with the library buildings and areas such as parking, seating, study areas and the quality of the buildings.
The library received many comments about the lack of certain materials available in the library, such as books, CDs, children's materials, books on CDs or reference books.
Mrs. White said patrons commented they would like to see more children's programming, more programs geared toward adults and more up-to-date book selections.
She said the lack of funding for more materials and more staff is why the system isn't able to fulfill these needs.
The library system is funded with state and local dollars. Its total budget is roughly $4.1 million.
Cherokee, Pickens and Gilmer county governments contribute 65 percent of the funds, while the state covers about 18 percent. The cities in the three-county area contribute about 2 percent total. The funds are used for the purchase of books and other materials. The remainder is from sources such as donations, fines and grants.
With the state decreasing its book funding by 53 percent, Mrs. White said the libraries are feeling even more of a pinch.
"It's extremely hard for us right now," she added.
Fortunately, Mrs. White said, the system has been helped by book donations and grants, but noted grant money for materials is scarce.
Another request patrons made was for the check-out period to be extended from two weeks to three weeks. Mrs. White said that isn't feasible because it would lead to even fewer books being available to other patrons.
Patrons also questioned why nicer library buildings lack a variety of books.
Mrs. White pointed out that different funds are used to purchase books than to construct new buildings. She noted R.T. Jones Memorial Library would undergo a renovation in 2010.
While Mrs. White said she understand patrons' concerns, the system's "hands are tied" on many issues because of funding.
"If I could do something, I would," she said.
Woodstock Public Library Branch Manager Sue Stephens said most of the patrons understand the funding situation and are pleased with the customer service.
"We try to go out of our way to meet their needs," she said.
Woodstock resident Stephanie Ware said she enjoys visiting Rose Creek Public Library because of the materials and service.
A part-time nanny, Ms. Ware said she's never had a problem with finding children's books there.
"I love it here," she said.