updated 6/27/2006 5:44:09 PM ET 2006-06-27T21:44:09

Faced with public protests, the public library board in a county with a large Hispanic population is expected to restore the funding it cut for Spanish-language fiction.

Trustees of the Gwinnett County Public Library will meet Wednesday to ratify the decision before the library’s budget year begins July 1, officials said.

“We heard from people on both sides of the issue and we heard from a lot of the press,” board Chairman Lloyd Breck told The Gwinnett Daily Post. “We are choosing to restore that line item. ... We were not trying to send any signal, but everyone seemed to think we were.”

The board voted at its June 12 meeting to cut $3,000 it had set aside for Spanish translations of popular fiction.

One out of six residents of the county, population 700,000, is Hispanic, but Breck said he was concerned about fairness since the county also has large populations of Chinese, Vietnamese, Nigerians, Romanians and Bosnians.

Board member Brett Taylor said some residents of the county in the Atlanta suburbs had objected to using taxpayer dollars to entertain readers who might be illegal immigrants.

The decision drew letters and e-mails from as far away as New Zealand, and Taylor said about half of the letters favored the decision and half were against it.

“There were plenty of people who just saw an inequity in this and an injustice,” he said. “I think it’s great they are reconsidering this. I didn’t really expect them to.”

Taylor did not vote on the library’s budget cut because he and hundreds of audience members had left the June 12 meeting after the board voted to fire then-Director Jo Ann Pinder without cause.

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