The Georgia Public Library Service is taking a look at its Talking Book Centers throughout the state and re-evaluating their current structure.
Talking Book Centers provide recorded books to those who are blind or visually impaired, or have a reading or physical disability that prevents them from holding and reading a standard book. There are 12 centers throughout the state, including the Augusta Audiovisual/Talking Book Center located within the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library on Telfair Street.
"There have been a number of studies over the past 10 years that have pointed to changes in that structure," said Lamar Veatch , a state librarian for the Georgia Public Library Service. "We have been following up with those recommendations with our own study."
The study and possible outcomes has been one of concern for the director of the East Central Georgia Regional Library system, Gary Swint, and the center's patrons.
"We had thought until (Monday) - we were being told that the center would probably close at the end of the state fiscal year which is this coming June," said Swint. "Of course, I was upset about it as were a number of patrons."
Patrons voiced their opinions during a public meeting held in Augusta in February and they, and Swint, have written to local legislators to discuss the value of the center and to garner support for it.
Veatch said that he doesn't foresee any immediate changes with the Augusta Audiovisual/Talking Book Center.
"I would not expect any great physical change going on in the Augusta area at this point," he said. "I know Gary Swint and his board have a strong interest in (providing) this service and working with programs like those in the Charlie Norwood VA Center. We want to pay particular attention to make sure that those individuals are properly served."
For Albert Vosefski , who has been a patron of the local Talking Book Center for about 16 years, that is some comfort.
"I stop by once in a while when I'm in town and if I have a problem, I can come talk to Audrey (Bell, the Augusta Audiovisual/Talking Book Center branch manager) about it in person," he said. "If I have a machine that goes out on me, I can come right here and replace it. It would be a lot tougher if I had to go someplace else and I would lose that personal relationship."
Another possibility is centralizing the shipping and mailing of materials for all centers, Veatch said, adding that it would allow the Talking Book Center employees more time to focus on outreach activities.
The study is expected to be completed in the next 60 days. Based on its findings, some changes that are decided could take effect as early as July and other changes could be made over the next few years.
In the meantime, the committee conducting the study is meeting with each center to help determine what the best path forward is, said Veatch, stressing that no final decisions have been made.