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Regionalizing libraries fizzles

The idea of regionalization seemed to fizzle out during the library board meeting held Tuesday evening in the Halifax County Library.

No action was taken by the board following Library Director Jay Stephens’ update. 

Stephens told the board he spoke with the director of Campbell County’s library system, who is working with the City of Lynchburg to regionalize, and according to him, the two are preparing to move forward in April. 

He also spoke with the director of the Pittsylvania County Library System who said she did not see a big push for regionalizing in her county, and she said her board of supervisors did not seem to be in favor of regionalizing. 

The director told the board Charlotte County would most likely be the only other option with which the county could regionalize.

Board members said Tuesday they did not think regionalizing would be beneficial to the county adding they believe the library system is at “a good place right now.” 

Stephens told the board he had not received any comments from the Halifax County Board of Supervisors on whether or not they were in favor of the library system regionalizing at this time. 

However, the director said County Administrator Jim Halasz had contacted him to see what stage the board was at in their discussions about regionalizing. 

He also said library trustees or the director of Charlotte County’s Library System had not indicated they would like to regionalize with Halifax. 

In other business, the board also reviewed an updated personnel manual and plan to bring it back at the next meeting for approval. 

The manual adds a 90-day probationary period for all new hires and gives the library director the authority to fill vacant positions. 

It also outlines the number of hours defining a full-time employee versus a part-time employee and states every employee will receive a 15-minute break period for every four continuous hours of work. 

If adopted, all full-time employees would be required to participate in the Virginia Retirement System with the library contributing 12.3 percent of the employee’s salary, and the employee will contribute 5 percent through payroll deduction. 

The policy allows for full-time employees to receive two personal days of leave every year on July 1 and allows them to be eligible for up to three consecutive days of bereavement leave. 

Columbus Day would be a day for the libraries to be closed from the public but would be a professional development day for staff. 

The board also amended and adopted their behavior policy and circulation policy. 

The behavior policy states patrons of the libraries are allowed to bring beverages in the library as long as they have a cap or lid but are not allowed in restricted areas such as near computers or electronics. 

The circulation policy defines the number of days for checkout, how library cards are issued and the amount of fees. 

Stephens suggested the board amend the policy to state patrons under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian’s signature to apply for a library card. 

Board members felt that if a patron could drive to the library at the age of 16, he or she should be able to receive a library card. 

The policy was amended to state those under the age of 16 must have a parent or legal guardian’s signature to apply for a library card.

The board also reviewed their financial report, which indicates the library system has used 60 percent of its budget for the current fiscal year. 

The total income is roughly above $279,000, and expenses are about $251,000. 

The director pointed out income is “far ahead” of what they had predicted, and they “may take in more than they thought.” 

At the next meeting, Stephens plans to speak with the board about moving some of the funds around in the budget to spend before the end of the fiscal year in June. 

According to Stephens, some funds were accumulated after the library director and branch manager positions became vacant after the resignations of Joe Zappacosta and Jessika Pettit. 

The library director and Branch Manager Chris Thompson also gave reports to the board. 

Since the last meeting, Stephens has begun work on a summer reading program, and the library system plans to have a booth at the Earth Day Farmers Market event. 

He has also signed up the library system to join the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce. 

On Wednesday the director had a meeting at the commonwealth attorney’s office to re-visit the idea of moving the law library to the Halifax Library. 

Thompson is planning to have the library system participate, in the Staunton River Battlefield State Park’s Commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of the Staunton River Bridge event in June. 

He also has planned a Victorian tea demonstration for April 30 at 2 p.m. at the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History. 

According to Thompson, the adult computer classes in which they teach Microsoft Office tools such as Excel and PowerPoint as well as learning how to use the Internet have had “great” attendance. 


Thompson also told the board four tablets have been purchased for the library system, and plans are to hold classes on tablets and Microsoft 8 in the near future.