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Library merger will bring changes for customers
Liberty Library at ribbon cutting
The new Liberty County Library in Hinesville is affiliated with Live Oak Public Libraries. - photo by File photo

Liberty County library users will gain free access to 10 million books and other items statewide when the three-county Live Oak Public Library joins the Georgia Public Library Service’s Public Information Network for Electronic Services.

LOPL, which serves Liberty, Chatham and Effingham counties, was one of three holdouts not participating in PINES; metropolitan Atlanta and the Columbus area have not joined PINES. Liberty County has been an island surrounded by PINES participants.

The transition is under way; new library cards have been ordered and acquisition of books and other materials is being coordinated with PINES. February is projected as a start date when Liberty Countians will hold PINES cards enabling them to check out books and other materials (and return them) at any of the 300 participating libraries in Georgia.

One change LOPL patrons will notice is an increase in overdue fines. Live Oak charges customers only if the library sends them a notice of an overdue checkout. PINES libraries charge a daily fee like 20 cents on overdue materials.

The big picture financially is rosier, library officials say. PINES charges no fee for libraries to join and there is no recurring cost to PINES member libraries. Live Oak is using a circulation management information system called SIRSI. SIRSI charged Live Oak $72,000 for last year and its prices had continually increased. There is no charge for the PINES management system that Live Oak will begin using in February instead of SIRSI.

Over ten years PINES says it saved $11 million in one-time charges and more than $61 million in ongoing costs. PINES also provides automation, training and courier service much more economically than each library system could obtain on its own.

PINES cards and services are free for all Georgia residents, as Live Oak’s are to its three-county area.

The PINES system receives state and federal funds for providing its borderless statewide library services. Nonresidents can get PINES cards if they are attending school in Georgia, employed in Georgia or own property in the state.

Live Oak Interim Executive Director Stephen Whigham said in a statement, "I used (PINES) at the library system where I retired from and others as an interim director, and I was in charge of converting from an older system to PINES. I am familiar with the PINES system and have nothing but positive experiences with it for many years."

"This change to PINES will save LOPL library funds for other purposes. It will also replace a circulation system that is not working well with one that is basically maintenance-free and widely respected nationwide. Our staff, myself included, are dedicated to providing quality library services to all citizens in our three-county library region. We strive to make the best use of public funds allocated to us. I consider this transition to the PINES system to serve both those ambitions."

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