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Libraries: Director's sales pitch fails to win convert on County Council

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County Council Member Bob Anderson was impressed with a presentation he heard this week on the county library system.

“I think you missed your calling. You should be on Madison Avenue doing marketing,” he told Dwight McInvaill, the county’s library director, as McInvaill finished a report about the role libraries play in communities.

But Anderson, who joined council this month, still has some concerns about building a new Waccamaw Library and what advancing technology will mean for the future of libraries.

“I don’t have a problem with libraries, but I’m afraid technology is going to pass them by,” Anderson said. “I want to sit down with Dwight one-on-one and understand where he thinks libraries are headed.”

The effects of technology on libraries was one of the things McInvaill touched on in his presentation. Computer use is a growing service provided by the county’s libraries, he told council. The library system logged nearly 84,000 computer use sessions in the last fiscal year.

In recent years the library also started using technology, including video games, to encourage children and teens to read. Electronic reading devices were introduced at all county library branches last year.

Additionally, while funding for libraries is down, visits to the library and circulation of books and other materials has risen significantly since 2007, a result of the recession, McInvaill said.

As for a new Waccamaw Library, Anderson said his main concern has to do with funding and the need to raise at least $315,000 in public money before construction can proceed.

“That’s a lot of money to say we’re going to find out there, particularly in this economic climate,” Anderson said. “I want us to make smart decisions and I think there are still some questions that have to be answered.

“My real issue is not whether we have a library and what it looks like, but making sure we have the funds to do what we need to do,” he added. “I’m not against anything, I just want to make sure we can afford it.”

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