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Decatur library drops Hartselle card fee

By Paul Huggins
DAILY Staff Writer

phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Hartselle residents will no longer have to pay to check out books from Decatur Public Library.

The Wheeler Basin Library board voted last week to eliminate the $10 yearly fee it had been charging Hartselle residents since Hartselle Public Library withdrew from the Wheeler Basin system a year ago. The change takes effect Oct. 1

"Numerous Hartselle residents have wanted us to eliminate the fee," said Wheeler Director Sandra McCandless, "and in retrospect, we feel it will be easier for the staff and better for the county if we serve all of the residents without charge."

The Decatur library made about $2,500 in revenue last year from charging residents outside of Decatur for cards.

The Hartselle City Council voted unanimously in August to ask the state attorney general for an opinion as to whether it was legal for the Decatur library to charge Hartselle residents but not other county citizens.

When the council voted, McCandless said the board was already considering her recommendation to drop the fee Oct. 1.

The attorney general has not responded, but Councilman Bill Smelser said the library board made a "smart" move.

"I think we'll be able to restore workability between all the libraries now," he said.

Though Hartselle residents can use the Decatur library for free, they must return all books to the library from which they borrowed them.

"Since Hartselle has a different automation system, we cannot check their books in and they cannot check our books in," McCandless said.

In addition, the board also raised the cost of a replacement library card at the Decatur Public Library from $2 to $5. First cards remain free.

As much as 28 percent of the cards issued in a month are replacement cards, McCandless said, but many of them are not because of lost cards.

Some people who forget to bring their card or simply can't find it at the moment frequently request new ones, she said, and the price increase is to deter these people from causing delays at the check-out counter.

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