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Board ponders whether two libraries more effective than one

Should the county consolidate its two libraries into one centrally located building?

That’s the question on the minds of library patrons who now can visit their pick of libraries in the Town of South Boston or the Town of Halifax.

During its regular monthly meeting Tuesday afternoon, Library Director Joe Zappacosta shared with Halifax County-South Boston Public Library Board members information he had received after meeting with County Administrator Jim Halasz and South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel to discuss the current structure of the two county libraries.

Zappacosta said he attended the South Boston Town Council biannual retreat last week where consolidation of the two libraries was a major topic of discussion.

“Consolidation of the libraries, it’s being discussed between the county, board of supervisors and the town,” said Zappacosta.

While meeting with Halasz and Daniel, Zappacosta gave the two officials a tour of both facilities and discussed whether operating two libraries is more efficient than one.

Zappcosta suggested board members add in the strategic plan a proposal to show support for a feasibility study to
be performed by a non-partial, non-binding consultant.

Board members questioned where the money would come from to fund the feasibility study.

The library director said he is unsure of details, but it is Zappacosta’s understanding the necessary funding would come from grant money. 

He said town and county officials assured him they want a better facility for the library and only want to do what would be best for the community.

 “The feasibility study is going to come up at the October joint meeting,” said Zappacosta referring to the Oct. 15 meeting of both town councils and the board of supervisors in Halifax.

“My only fear is we’re missing an opportunity,” he said referring to an offer from the Town of South Boston to fund money to keep the South Boston library branch open on Wednesdays.

Last month the board voted to close the South Boston branch on Wednesdays due to budget cuts.

According to Zappacosta, if board members are willing to work with South Boston Town Council on keeping the library in South Boston, the town will provide additional funding to keep it open on Wednesdays.

This was cause for concern for some board members, especially noting that Halifax County Public Library is closed on Friday’s due to budget cuts and is not being offered the same deal.

Without a quorum present Tuesday afternoon, board members took no action following the nearly two-hour long discussion.

In other business Tuesday, Zappacosta presented an end-of-year review to board members, financial report, update on the strategic plan and informed board members circulation and patron visits for both libraries was up during the month of July.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25 at 4:30 p.m. at the Halifax County Public Library.