Persistent cuts in state and local budgets present a tough challenge for Statesboro Regional Libraries, but a new system director says she is up to task.
Jennifer Durham, who was named the director of the Statesboro Regional Library System in October — taking over for the departing Sharon Rowe — envisions a bright future for the five-library system that she says will always strive to “do more with less.”
“There are some challenges, of course, with the economic troubles that are facing libraries and everyone else,” Durham said. “In addition to some of the local issues from county to county concerning funding agencies, we are facing additional cuts from the state.”
Support from Georgia legislators has dwindled in recent years and reached a point where no money is provided to add books, DVDs or audio materials to libraries, she said.
Regardless, Durham said libraries in Evans, Emanuel, Candler, Bryan and Bulloch counties will continue to provide and enhance community programs.
“We want to continue providing excellent service, and new and innovative service, but will have to do that (with) less and less resources,” she said. “One of the things that I would like to do is have libraries in our system look ahead with long-range planning and goal-planning. With things so tough, the tendency is to keep your head down and keep chugging along, but we also need to dream.”
“When there is an opportunity through grants, additional funds, or hopefully an economic upswing, we need to be ready to implement new ideas and expand our services,” Durham said.
Currently, the libraries rely on some state money for operational costs and local donations from individuals and groups like Friends of Statesboro Regional Libraries, to fund programs.
“The system offers programming, on a continuous basis, to people of all ages,” Durham said. Programs include the summer reading program for children and young adults, bridge and chess clubs and a book club.
“A lot of folks just don’t realize all that the library does today — whether that is providing computers for folks applying for jobs, or the several programs conducted there,” said Bill Bolen, who sits on the Statesboro Regional Public Libraries Board of Trustees.
Durham takes over as system director after 19 years of service with Statesboro Regional Libraries. Most recently, she served as assistant director.
“When the director position first came available I thought that, maybe, the position was not really for me,” Durham said. “But after thinking about it, talking with staff, board members and community members, and receiving great encouragement, I decided that Statesboro has been my home for 19 years and that I would like to take on more responsibility and be more involved in my community.”
Durham said she is enjoying the position so far.
Bolen said the system’s board of trustees could not be more confident about its decision.
“(Durham) is, we think, a very capable person and will provide great leadership to the library system,” he said. “We are very pleased with her, the staff seems to be very pleased, and we have received very positive reviews since she has taken over.”
People interested in programs offered at the libraries, or wanting to donate to the system, can call (912) 764-1341 or visit a library’s reference desk.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.