Library Director proposes new location for Yulee branch

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By Cindy Jackson
Reporter
January 22, 2019 11:19 a.m.

Nassau Reads is a perfect name for the website of the Nassau County Library System. And statistics for the library system from last year were most impressive – as presented by Dawn Bostick, Library Director, Nassau County Public Library System at a recent meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

For example, in FY 2018 the Fernandina Beach Branch Library processed 2,000 passport applications resulting in revenues of $64,377 – some $14,000 more than budgeted. The passport application program also saw the processing of 1,877 photos taking in $18,773. The bottom line was a 25% increase over the prior year.

But that’s just Fernandina Beach. The Nassau County Library System is comprised of five separate libraries. In addition to Fernandina, there is a facility in Bryceville, Callahan, Hilliard and Yulee.

For FY 2018, in the entire system, over 200,000 print items were circulated, in addition to 15,000 E-books. 3,962 new library cards were issued and across all of Nassau County, the system recorded 183,561 library visits.

Impressive statistics, yes. Ms. Bostwick, however, did express some concerns and those concerns relate to the Yulee library, now housed in just 500 square feet of space on the campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville off William Burgess Boulevard.

The Yulee library has been at that location since 2001 but despite acknowledging the great host that FSCJ has been, changes are proposed that are significantly compromising the level of service the library system wants to provide to Yulee residents.

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First, the hours of operation are limited and expected to be reduced even more in the coming months. There are no evening hours nor is the library able to open on the weekend.

And, for programs that play to a packed house, the library must now pay to lease additional space in the form of a larger room on those occasions.

Whereas the shared space lease agreement initially provided phone and date lines, the library must now cover the cost of those amenities on top of the monthly lease rate.

Statistics show that less than half the residents in the 32097 zip code use the Yulee facility – with reports documenting just 5,600 visiting the facility on an annual basis. Ms. Bostwick believes much of that has to do with the hours of operation being just 8am – 6pm Monday- Thursday and just 8am – noon on Fridays — which leaves little time for commuters or families to get there on any given day. In addition, the limited hours of operation severely curtail the scheduling of popular special programs.

Proposed location of Yulee Library. The space offers 6,000 square feet of space, plenty of parking, is in close proximity to other county offices

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FSCJ expires in June. One proposed solution proposed is to rent space elsewhere – specifically in the shopping plaza where Petco is located — 463713 State Road 200. Ms. Bostwick suggested the additional passport revenue be used to help ready such a location.

The space offers 6,000 square feet of space, plenty of parking, is in close proximity to other county offices and the landlords are ready to engage in long term lease discussions.

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The Friends of the Library (FOL) of Fernandina Beach certainly proved to be an amazing force in making the new downtown facility a reality and they continue to expand upon the vision. At the recent BOCC meeting, over a dozen individuals were in attendance to show their support for a new library location and their intent to grow an FOL group of their own – in Yulee.

For more information about the Nassau County Library System, please visit
http://nassaureads.com.

Editor’s Note: Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Cindy received her BA in Political Science from Dickinson College. Upon graduation, Cindy began her career on Capitol Hill working as a legislative aide and director. She later became a part of the public relations and lobbying team of the American Iron and Steel Institute and served as director of the office of state legislative affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Cindy was involved in economic development with the state of Maryland, and served as executive director of Leadership Washington County. As a community volunteer, Cindy participates in numerous volunteer activities serving as a member of Sunrise Rotary, and as board member of Cummer Amelia Board of Directors.

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