The Pine Bluff and JeffersonCounty Library System’s Board of Trustees has approved a 2018 budget that’s in line with their new director’s focus on the future.

With an increase of $94,950 compared to last year’s budget of $1,348,250, the $1,433,200 amount includes the recently-hired director’s salary, salaries among full-time and part-time employees and other expenditures, including public relations and programming.

“I want to build that up little by little,” Pine Bluff and Jefferson County Library System Director Bobbie Morgan said of public relations. “I consider marketing as a part of public relations and I want to start marketing what we have here — what’s going on within the library. I want the community to know that there’s more than what they may think the library has.”

Morgan increased the budget for public relations to $8,000, up $3,000 from the 2017 budget. In an effort to attract more visitors to the library, she also expanded programming from $9,000 to $12,000.

“What I’d like to do is at the beginning of the year, set a programming type of schedule so that we have an idea of what to bring in and people in the community will know and can sort of look forward to whatever it is we’re going to do,” said Morgan. “But, I need to get with all of the branch managers and department managers to figure out what they’ve got planned already.”

In the upcoming year, full-time employees will receive a three percent increase while part-time staff can expect a $0.50 raise. The new budget also allocates funds for the possibility of two part-time employees, along with a special projects manager — Taylor Eubank.

Eubank served as the interim library director prior to the board hiring Morgan. After Morgan’s arrival, Eubank agreed to stay on to help with her transition in her new role.

“We believe with your skill and knowledge, you can work with the architect committee, you can work with introducing Bobbie to all the powers and people in the community (and) you can really start helping the architects and elaborating, putting together various ideas (and) concrete ideas for programs in our new facility,” said library board president Tommy Brown to Eubank. “You can work with the architects and the contractors as we work on our branches and we just value your experience and expertise.”

Eubank did not immediately accept the board’s offer of special projects manager for one year at 10 hours a week for $2,427, but instead said he needed a couple of days to make a decision.

“I gotta go think about it,” Eubank said, chuckling.

And while the board approved their budget for the new year, they are still waiting on Jefferson County Judge Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV’s consent to fill their empty county board seat. The board has suggested Travis White of Altheimer as the replacement for Mike Gunter, who resigned.

“The county judge has decided he’s not approving of any board or any trustees until after the new year,” Morgan said.