Letter to the Editor: Smyrna Resident Shares Concerns About Lewis A. Ray Library

Oakdale community member Mary Rose Barnes: "I have lived in Oakdale for many years and would hate to lose this integral part of our community."

I have it on good authority that the county plans to close Lewis A. Ray Library in Oakdale (on Oakdale Road near Atlanta Road).

The county reduced the hours to Monday-Thursday, closing at 6 and closed entirely on Friday and Saturday because of the economic downturn.

Obviously, readership is down because of this drastic change. Predictably, because of reduced use, the county is using this reduction to justify closing our library.

I have tried in the past to discuss this issue with our district commissioner and library officials, but the answer was "Send an email."

As you know, the population in the Oakdale vicinity has exploded in recent years, with the increased density allowed by Cobb County. There are more people than ever who are more than willing to use our lovely little jewel of a library, but the hours are unrealistic for most.

The county recently closed a library in Austell and I asked my district commissioner if that personnel could be used to lenghen our hours, he told
a group of us that the library should have been closed years ago when the county established regional libraries.

The closest regional library to Oakdale is in Austell and off the beaten path for most residents of our area. Vinings Library is a nice library, but it is not a regional library.

Southeast Cobb is a region, too and should be served as well as other areas of the county.

As I have pointed out many times, the Vinings, Oakdale and Cumberland areas are grossly underserved with amenities, although ours is the densest area in unincorporated Cobb County. Our high tax base supports such services for the rest of the county, wtih precious little amenity revenues returned to us.

The Vinings/Oakdale/Cumberland areas have no county sports facility, aquatic center, substantial sized parks, senior centers, nor early voting center. Driving to Austell to vote early is more of an inconvenience than simply voting on the designated Tuesday!

If our library is closed, the only public amenity that Oakdale will have would be our nice little tot lot. The county has even refused our request for a gazebo to shade the parents who watch their children play.

With reasonable hours, our community would again utilize our library.

I have lived in Oakdale for many years and would hate to lose this integral part of our community.

I would especially hate to see it go down without a fight on an even playing field. If the county would keep our library open Monday through Saturday with closing hours at 7, the officials could observe this asset in its proper light, and as the asset that it has been for decades.

At the very least, there should be public notification of the county's intent, so that citizens could make their wishes known at a public meeting.

Mary Rose Barnes
Oakdale, Smyrna

Julie Lischer February 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Well said! Love that library!
American February 23, 2013 at 01:57 PM
Well said! My family uses this library extensively. For some reason, our area of Cobb County is neglected. I agree with Mary that our area is lacking in the amenities other parts of the county have convenient access to and use of.
Southern Sista February 23, 2013 at 02:00 PM
We have used that library alot! Love it!
Erik Fernald February 23, 2013 at 04:12 PM
I have used that library as well and understand your position. However, you need a plan to keep it open. Simply asking clearly does not and will not work. You will need to get about 6-12 people to volunteer time at the library and also raise some money to offset the county's excuse for shutting it down. Think out of the box a little, and you might save your library.
Ann Johnson Bowes February 23, 2013 at 04:48 PM
I use this library and it would be sad to see it close. I agree the times are not good for people who work and need a library. I live in Smyrna and go to the Smyrna Library, but some time I need to have a book sent from another Cobb Library and it is convenient to go to the Lewis A Ray Library.
RJ Cook February 23, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Good points Mary Rose! Why isn't the library open during the hours when people can use it? Children's midweek free time is after school and on Saturday & Sunday. Working adult free time is about the same.
J. Weaver February 23, 2013 at 07:44 PM
This library is a hidden gem and the only one conveniently located to MANY people. I live very close to it and use it regularly. I believe the reason those of us who live in this area are neglected is because we live in UNINCORPORATED Cobb. When I lived further into the core of Smyrna I was able to use the lovely Smyrna Library, but once I moved here was denied use of that facility because of my new address, even though it is a Smyrna address! I was very upset until I learned of the close proximity of the Lewis A. Ray Library. It will not be closed without a fight!
Bruce February 23, 2013 at 09:34 PM
A large part of the problem is too much staff at each library. How many persons does it take to operate a library?
rosalyn heard February 23, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Libraries are sometimes the only life line individuals have at their disposal. The staff at Lewis Ray are more than employees they are family to the community they serve. During times of hardship, I and other members of the community have received support from the people at Lewis Ray such as help with job searches, school applications and many others circumstances. Please leave this library and it's staff intact. Rosalyn
Kerri Bounds February 23, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Grew up with this little gem and hate to see it close. The population of young families within walking distance of this library is triple the population of 30 years ago. Sad to see such a great community service close.
Matt Sicignano February 24, 2013 at 03:26 AM
It will be a shame to close the library here. It seems the inconvenient hours were changed so that the least amount of likely users would be there!
Peggy Holbrook February 26, 2013 at 02:46 PM
The really good news is that there are no plans at this time to close this library!!


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