LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — LONDON — After careful consideration, the Laurel County Public Library Board of Trustees has decided to close its branch locations in the northern and southern areas of the county.
Effective Dec. 14, the southern branch in Corbin and the northern branch in East Bernstadt will close to the public.
The Corbin branch has been open since 2006 on the Cumberland Gap Parkway in southern Laurel County. The East Bernstadt branch has been open in its current location on north U.S. 25 since 2012, after moving from a previous location in East Bernstadt that had been open since 2004.
The move will allow the library to streamline library operations and concentrate on the improvement of services and facilities at the main branch location in College Park.
“Over time, we’ve noticed that the majority of patrons prefer to visit the main library where they have the largest selection of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and other resources available," said Library Director Peggy Mershon. "They tend to use the branches more as a drop-off point for book returns, and we’ve also had very limited success with both adult and children’s programs at the branches.”
Diminishing circulation statistics also played a part in the decision. According to Mershon, circulation at the south branch in Corbin has fallen over 26 percent over the past three years, and circulation at the north branch in East Bernstadt amounts to less than 4 percent of the total circulation count among all three library branches.
The main library location accounts for 81 percent of the circulation among the three branches and has 82 percent of the attendance.
In a press release, Board President R.W. Dyche III expressed his support for closing the two branch locations.
“With four out of five people using the main branch for their library activity, it just makes good financial sense to the board to develop the best possible facility at that location,” he said.
The move will save about $250,000 per year — funds that could be used for an expansion of the main library in the future. Plans for expansion have yet to be finalized, Mershon said.
No layoffs will occur as a result of the closures.
Sidewalk book drop boxes will remain in place at each branch location until Jan. 15, 2014.
CNHI writer LeeAnn Cain contributed to this story.