The Saline County Library and Garland County Library are in the process of developing a regionalization plan that would allow both libraries to join forces for the improvement of services, events, and materials.
Our Director, Patty Hector, and Garland County Library Director, Adam Webb, have worked alongside one another for several years. In recent months, they have realized the numerous similarities between the two library systems: service population, core values, and even a shared community with Hot Springs Village.
“This is a great opportunity for the Saline County Library to expand our material and service offerings,” said Hector, “as well as fill in the gap for the residents of Hot Springs Village.”
After discussions with department heads, staff, and boards, both libraries have taken steps to bring this idea to fruition. In early July, Hector presented this plan to the Saline County Quorum Court. In the coming months, Hector and Webb will meet with their counties’ attorneys and libraries’ attorneys to draft an agreement. Once the agreement is finalized, it will be submitted to both boards for approval, followed by submission to the Quorum Courts for a vote.
While the new organizational structure of the libraries won’t be very different to the public, the increase in materials and services, ease of use, and expanded outreach will be, including a shared branch in Hot Springs Village. This change will primarily affect the internal aspects of both organizations.
“We noticed a huge overlap between both our outreach and programming efforts,” said Webb, “as well as our staff and departments.”
This regionalization will allow for economies of scale when making purchasing decisions for the library, seamless delivery of service, shared administrative costs and staffing. Libraries working together in a consortial or regional structure is common—over 1/3 of all the libraries in Arkansas participate in a regional system. That number is even higher across the U.S.
Both the Saline County Library and Garland County Library are hopeful for the positive changes that a regionalization could bring. “We can’t see a downside to it,” said Hector.