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Augusta's talking book center could close under proposal

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 5:33 PM
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 1:42 AM
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Local librarians fear a state plan to consolidate services for the disabled could hurt patrons’ access to materials.

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The Rev. Wilfred Hunt listens to a recorded book on tape that was mailed to his home from the talking book center.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
The Rev. Wilfred Hunt listens to a recorded book on tape that was mailed to his home from the talking book center.

Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services, a division of the Georgia Public Library Service, is considering closing Augusta’s talking book center and seven others in favor of an Atlanta customer call center. Talking book centers, also called libraries for accessible services in some areas, provide recorded audio literature for visually impaired, learning disabled or others with physical impairments that limit reading standard print materials.

Audrey Bell, the branch manager of the East Central Georgia Talking Book Center, said closing the Augusta location would mean less customer service and longer waits before disabled patrons receive materials. The Augusta location provides personalized service that would be unmatched by a call center, she said.

“We want (our patrons) to keep abreast with the same types of information our regular patrons do,” Bell said. “They shouldn’t be left out from having the opportunity to learn and read materials like our regular patrons.”

This isn’t the first time state proposals have threatened to shut Augusta’s talking book center. In 2010, public outcry and area legislators helped keep it open.

Pat Herndon, the director of Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services, said no decision about closing the centers has been made but a consolidated service could save money and provide better customer support.

Only four of Georgia’s nine talking book centers – called subregional centers – keep their own collections of digital books. People served by those centers also receive books by mail from a distribution center at the Georgia Archives in Morrow, Ga., which also mails books for the other five centers, Herndon said.

“Some customers do come into subregional libraries. It’s not a whole lot,” Herndon said.

Augusta’s talking book center serves more than 1,000 people, Bell said. It serves disabled in nine counties at 125 institutions, including Lynndale Inc., the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center blind rehabilitation center, the Augusta State Medical Prison and various assisted living facilities.

Bell said she knows her patrons well and recommends new books that fit their interests. Some listen to several books a week as an alternative to television and radio.

Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services has about 34,000 digital talking book titles in its collection and thousands more magazines, music materials and other items.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 07:02 am
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This could all be automated

This could all be automated with one internet center in the state. It's the move to internet only libraries of all kinds. Actually, one national, privately ran, contracted with the states, library would probably be best.

flcracker
137
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flcracker 12/19/13 - 08:04 am
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Riverman

Riverman, how is a blind or visually impaired person going to use the Internet? As the article states, the patrons won't get personalized service if all centers are consolidated in Atlanta. You talk negatively about public libraries all the time, but when was the last time you stepped inside one and used their services?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 08:53 am
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Blind Folks

I believe blind folks would find it much more convenient to access the talking books via the internet or phone from home than having to travel to the building.

The truth is libraries are a dinosaur. Almost everyone admits it's much easier to get books online, but then they will say the library is a quiet place for people to read and study. It also provides computers, etc. My answer is all that's fine, but those things can be done in community centers and churches.

kewlchik_16
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kewlchik_16 12/19/13 - 09:36 am
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I am against automated libraries

First of all, I don't know of any other location in Augusta, including community centers and churches, that offer computer use to the public free of charge.

Second, besides the fact that people still like to hold a physical book in their hands, a library is a lot more than books on a shelf and computers. Libraries offer an invaluable service to the community in the form of computer classes for the electronically-illiterate, foreign language classes, couponing groups, and more, not to mention a listening ear for the many people that walk through the door. To see the look on someone's face when they FINALLY find a job, a job they wouldn't have found if not for the librarian that taught them how to search for jobs online and told them about the great resume writing class. This may be easy to you or me, but there are people in our community that have never touched a computer and would be lost in today's world, if not for the people at the library.

If you go to the library in December and peek into their break room, you will probably find a number of tasty treats from grateful library customers. I guarantee they don't think that libraries are obsolete. I understand that a lot of people do not find a use for public libraries, but a lot more people do. I don't use the local soup kitchen...it doesn't mean that other people don't, or that it doesn't do good for others.

My advice to the naysayers would be to peek your head into one of the local libraries sometime...take a look at their circular to see what classes and programs are being offered and open your eyes, ears, and mind. The folks behind the desk will answer your questions with a smile.

Just don't tell them that they are obsolete...they would have to disagree.

seenitB4
90981
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seenitB4 12/19/13 - 09:49 am
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2
His own little world

Riverman lives in his own little world of make believe...he THINKS we can do away with the Pofc & Library....how selfish of him....many don't use the internet & we all know that...thank you for the intelligent comments on here.....the library is a welcome place for many needy children.....keep up the great work & I KNOW many appreciate it.

Little Lamb
47012
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Little Lamb 12/19/13 - 10:25 am
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4
Riverman is Correct

Take a look at the picture up above. It shows a library patron listening to a recorded book that was mailed to him from the Augusta talking book center.

The proposed alternative is to mail the talking books from a central location near Atlanta. What difference would it make to Rev. Wilfred Hunt where his talking book was mailed from?

It reminds me of the Amazon.com business model.

Riverman1
87132
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 10:46 am
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5
Ah, But What Is the Reason For Libraries?

Kewlchick does exactly what I figured would happen. She brings up all kinds of other reasons to have libraries except the task of getting the most books in the hands of the most people. Because a librarian helped someone get a job we need libraries with tens of thousands of hard copy books, huge buildings and high paid staffs? The person at the community center where kids can check out a basketball could have done the same thing.

Riverman1
87132
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 10:49 am
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SeenIt would outlaw

SeenIt would outlaw electricity if she could.

itsanotherday1
45493
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itsanotherday1 12/19/13 - 11:37 am
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Without regard to the "real

Without regard to the "real books" issue, there are no services provided by libraries that couldn't be done elsewhere. My mother and her cohorts take free computer classes sponsored by a local church. No reason that any local community church could not do the same. Those same churches or community centers could provide use of computers if there was a need to do so.
RM is right about that part.

kewlchik_16
32
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kewlchik_16 12/19/13 - 12:28 pm
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Necessary Services

High paid staff? That's cute. The library staff is primarily staffed by either part-time employees or full-timers making under $20k a year. They are extremely underpaid, and there benefits get worse every year.

I'm not saying our local community center couldn't help with computers (even though they don't)...but I am saying that the services provided by the library are in demand, and the community benefits greatly. And FYI...community center employees and library employees are both paid by Augusta-Richmond County, so the money comes from your taxes regardless of what building is being used.

Btw...this is supposed to be a friendly debate. Let's keep it at an adult level, shall we?

seenitB4
90981
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seenitB4 12/19/13 - 12:39 pm
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1
Don't worry

I can handle anything River dishes out..hahah

I still believe in Ga Power my friend....gotta keep that electric chair...sure, the Library can teach computer skills & some do just that....what some miss on here is the feeble hands of oldies...their mind is bright but the body is not....anyway, no worry to me....we will have the Pofc & the Library in my lifetime....

BTW...we have friendly disagreements on here very often....we usually kiss & make up..hahahhah
But, THAT BREATH, use some dang mints...:):) I might have to call someone doggy breath. ♥

Riverman1
87132
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 12:41 pm
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Kewlchick, I thought most

Kewlchick, I thought most libraries have to have at least one librarian with a degree in library science? They only make 20 k a year? I don't want anyone to lose their job, but community centers and churches can pick up the slack and volunteers can help out at both. Some locales are already going to online only libraries because the truth is you will have more books available and more people will check them out. Everything I hear now is that libraries do all these other things such as having classes and so on. That's nice to know, but as IAD just said, churches can offer the same type programs.

Riverman1
87132
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 12:47 pm
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SeenIt, loves libraries, post

SeenIt, loves libraries, post offices, old dogs, children and watermelon wine. She has a country music heart and is fiercely loyal to her family and friends. I knew me talking about the PO would PO her, but some times I just gotta push the envelope.

seenitB4
90981
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seenitB4 12/19/13 - 12:50 pm
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I just gotta push the envelope.

And you so it so well my friend.....gotta love it!

seeyall later....THINGS are going on here...

Sweet son
10753
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Sweet son 12/19/13 - 12:59 pm
3
1
Love the banter between Seenit and Riverman two of my

friends! And yes Riverman she is just an old country girl who loves the simpler things in life as do I.

And it is true we fuss and fight in this forum with our keyboards but we 'kiss and make up' just as Seenit said. :)

Riverman1
87132
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 01:09 pm
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Sweetson, I know when to give

Sweetson, I know when to give up, though. When I have SeenIt on me and Kewlchick, too, I give. But I really don't want to see people lose their jobs. I'm just giving them a head's up on the coming technological changes. Of course, I could always be wrong.

kewlchik_16
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kewlchik_16 12/19/13 - 01:26 pm
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0
Technology Changes

You are absolutely right...technology is here, and libraries are adapting. Librarians do not live in a bubble. They help people stay up to date with computers and gadgets...even tell people to bring in their ipads and androids for free assistance. Libraries see the growing needs of the community and adapt to them. But we are always going to have a need for the people behind the desk. A machine or a book through mail cannot make up for that.

Most of the libraries do have at least one librarian on staff, but as with the other staff, they are underpaid and underappreciated for the services they offer. They don't just get to read all day at work. As a matter of fact, reading on the job is prohibited.

Riverman1
87132
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Riverman1 12/19/13 - 01:29 pm
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1
If you can't read on the job,

If you can't read on the job, why be a librarian?

kewlchik_16
32
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kewlchik_16 12/19/13 - 01:32 pm
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Ask a Librarian

Pop in to your local library and ask a librarian.

CobaltGeorge
165061
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CobaltGeorge 12/19/13 - 01:42 pm
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kelwchik

I have read all the comments on this topic and I can say from many years on here, that nowhere in any comment made above has it not maintain an adult debate.

For a newbee, the comment "Btw...this is supposed to be a friendly debate. Let's keep it at an adult level, shall we?" sure isn't very friendly!

CobaltGeorge
165061
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CobaltGeorge 12/19/13 - 01:44 pm
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2
Ha Ha

Just picked up another TSD.

nocnoc
45118
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nocnoc 12/19/13 - 01:51 pm
2
1
Isn't the whole concept of

Isn't the whole concept of what libraries are vs. what they were drastically different? Therefore Shouldn't the Library keep pace?

The last time I was at the Downtown MAIN Library it had as more people inside beating the HEAT, than it did people that would be checking out books.

On the Subject of Checking out books
I strongly recommend everyone to head Downtown the main branch and see just how few books they have on the shelves. I am willing to bet they have less books on the shelves now that they did in 1960's. Interesting Note: the percentage of books written since 1990 exceeds all written works previously done in history.

The I-Brary is slowly replacing the Bricks & Mortar versions.
I-Books and Audio Books via the Internet would obviously reach more being open 24/7/365.

BTW: There are inexpensive devices and Apps that allow blind or limited sight users to use the Internet.

Even M$ windows has some support built-in.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308978

Or
https://www.google.com/search?q=Internet+support+for+the+Blind+users&ie=...

Or how about the American Federation for the Blind
http://www.afb.org/section.aspx?SectionID=57&TopicID=167&DocumentID=2175

itsanotherday1
45493
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itsanotherday1 12/19/13 - 02:40 pm
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kewlchick

As an old timer here, I have to agree with CGee that no arrows were slung. On some threads about politics and religion it can get testy just out of frustration with the tunnel vision; but we all are friendly, and I would like to believe would come to the aid of anyone on here if needed.

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