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Library board still without chairman
Liberty Library at ribbon cutting
A crowd attends the ribbon cutting for the new Liberty County Library last summer. - photo by File photo

The Liberty County Library Board of Trustees is without a chairman and efforts to name one are stymied by persistent questions about the board’s composition.

A reorganization measure unanimously adopted by the board was turned down Thursday by the Liberty County Board of Commissioners after county attorney Kelly Davis said the measure would violate state law.

The county commission funds the largest share of Liberty’s libraries; other money comes from Hinesville, Midway and Riceboro. The library board had been moving to make representation proportionate with funding by expanding the body and giving the county two more seats.

The resolution passed by the library board would have done that by allowing the county commissioners as a body to appoint another member and allowing one commissioner to name another new member. Davis told the commissioners that appointments must be made by the panel; individual commissioners cannot make appointments.

The commissioners had discussed library board changes at their midmonth September meeting where Live Oak Public Libraries Regional Board Chairman the Rev. Douglas Harn and Liberty County’s other representative on the regional board, Modibo Kadalie of Riceboro, were present, along with several members of the county board.

At that meeting Harn told the commissioners that new memorandums of understanding were being worked on to specify the relationships between the counties and the regional library.

LOPL is headquartered in Savannah and serves Liberty, Chatham and Effingham counties with 19 branch libraries. The LOPL system is governed by a regional board with representatives from each county and each county has an advisory board.

Harn praised the commissioners for taking up the slack when the Liberty County Board of Education cut off public library funding. He said the present composition of the county board was three members named by the county commission, three named by Hinesville City Council and one each named by the Midway and Riceboro city councils.

At the September meeting District Three County Commissioner Connie Thrift had numerous questions about the library board’s membership and asked Harn if the panel had ever had a member from Gum Branch, the area she represents. Harn said he was the longest serving member present and that he could recall no member from the Gum Branch.

Thrift continued with questions about board membership, at one time pointing to library board members in the audience, saying, "I can’t remove you . . . I can’t remove you . . . ."

Harn was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting. Walter Clayton, manager of Liberty County libraries; board vice chairman Rosemary Brown and several other board members were at the Thursday meeting.

The Liberty County Library’s board of trustees makes recommendation on operations of the Hinesville and Midway-Riceboro libraries and names two members to the regional board which is the governing authority for the three-county library system.

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