CLAYTON — The town council has approved a 2013-14 budget that does not include a second library branch.
Christie Starnes, head librarian at Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library, said she had grown excited about the prospect of additional space. But she thinks the library has plenty of options left in its one building.
“There’s a lot more we can do here, and we’d like to expand the hours at our current location,” Starnes said.
Starnes said she’d really like to keep the library open longer on Saturdays. Now it’s open from 9 a.m. to noon.
At a budget meeting in May, Deputy Town Manager Nancy Medlin told the town council that the library on Church Street was at capacity.
In her presentation, Medlin compared Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library to the Public Library of Johnston County in Smithfield. The library in Clayton is open 41 hours a week; the Smithfield library, 55.5 hours. The two libraries have about the same number of patrons come through their doors annually – about 147,000 in Smithfield and 142,000 in Clayton.
“We’re running the same number of people in our facilities in a lot less time,” Medlin said.
Some council members said they felt the library should focus on expanding hours at its current location before opening a second branch.
The budget draft from Town Manager Steve Biggs set aside $60,000 for a satellite library. The challenge now, Starnes said, is to find room for new books.
Every month, the library gets 30-50 books that are on The New York Times bestseller list, and Barnes said she doesn’t want to stop buying those books.
In the past couple of months, the library has added book cases for paperbacks and classics. The bestsellers are on a freestanding display,
“We will just have to keep reorganizing and be creative to be able to keep offering the books people want,” Starnes said.
The library is storing books by local authors in the attic until Starnes and her staff can make more room.
In the past year, the library has placed audio books and young-adult books in a room separate from the main book selection. That has helped make more room for the bestsellers.
“It is exciting though that so many people are reading that there are a lot of books constantly checked out,” Starnes said.
A raise for manager
At its meeting last week, the town council awarded the town manager a 3.5-percent raise.
Biggs and other town employees are scheduled to get a 1.5-percent cost-of-living increase on July 1. The council gave the manager a merit raise of 2 percent. Other employees are also eligible for merit raises of up to 2 percent.
Biggs’ salary as of Jan. 1 was $129,997. His raise will add about $4,500 to that.