City and county officials are saying a dispute over funding for computers at the Havelock library is in the past, with a solution to the situation on the horizon.
"I don’t want this to end up being a problem between us when we’re about to have a solution to it in September," said Will Lewis, a Havelock commissioner who serves as a liaison for the Havelock library.
That solution involves purchase of a new Linux-based system for all libraries in the Craven-Pamlico-Carteret library system.
The Havelock library had put in a special request for $10,000 on top of its budget for the purchase of new computers. While Havelock commissioners agreed to fund $4,000, the county did not supply any money in its budget, believing the city would fund the entire cost based on a comment Lewis made during a meeting.
The lack of funding from the county angered some in Havelock who felt the county needed to do more to support a library used by both county and city residents.
Lewis said his comment was misinterpreted and blamed the dispute on miscommunication. He said all involved were working together toward the new system, which could mean new computers for the Havelock library by October.
Susan W. Simpson, interim director of the CPC Regional Library, said Havelock is not alone in its need for new computers.
"All the public-use computers need replacing," she said. "It’s the computer industry. We can’t keep up with it."
Only seven of the 12 public-use computers at the Havelock library are working, and patrons say those are slow and in some cases freeze up during online sessions, making it difficult for students to take tests and for residents to apply for jobs.
"That’s pretty much the way it is throughout our regional libraries," Simpson said.
The Havelock library computers have come from different sources over the years and have different software. Simpson said getting new computers with the latest Windows 8 software for the entire library system was too expensive.
The Linux system, which uses a main server to which computers would connect, would be less expensive.
"We’ve been talking to a company who is willing to give us a really good price on computers that do not have the Windows environment," Simpson said. "We’ve been trying to get our ducks in a row. If we can get all 10 libraries to be able to join in this, we can get computers with the software at an incredible price.
"We’ve talked to the county IT guy. We’ve talked to the Havelock IT guys and a couple of other really smart IT persons, and they all say that this is a good deal and that this is a good product."
Simpson said the estimated cost of the system for the Havelock library is $7,000 to $8,000. An initial down payment on the system is about $3,700, said Lewis, who is proposing the city’s $4,000 be put toward that amount.
Lewis said he has talked with Craven County Board of Commissioners Chairman Scott Dacey about the county paying the remainder of the balance through its budget next fiscal year. An informal meeting among county and city officials is scheduled for Aug. 19 when the issue is expected to be discussed.
The solution sits well with Havelock head librarian Margie Garrison.
"I’m very pleased. I think it’s a great solution," she said. "The price is going to be wonderful. Because of the way it works, we’ll be able to get more computers for the public rather than if we did single PCs. It’s a win-win."
Meanwhile, upon hearing of the computer situation at the Havelock library, Craven Community College decided to donate four more computers.
"It’s wonderful news," Garrison said.
Lewis said that the purchase of the new system could happen as early as September, when it is hoped that a permanent regional library director will have been hired.