Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves speaks to the Buckhead Business Association on Jan. 15, 2015.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves admits he “learned the hard way” that the county’s libraries are popular.

Last spring, the county’s library system cut back hours its library branches were open in an effort to save money. The library system had to cut $5 million from its budget because of reductions in library funding from the county. The system laid off part-time employees and closed all but two of the county’s 33 library branches on Fridays.

“When we cut the library hours.. our citizens weren’t going to have that,” Eaves told members of the Buckhead Business Association during the group’s Jan. 15 meeting. “They were used to going [to the libraries] on Fridays. When we cut the hours, we got an earful from our residents.”

After the public outcry, some library branches restored hours they were open. Using money raised through a  bond issue, existing library branches are being renovated and improved, Eaves said. In February or March, he said, changes will “make our libraries very, very vibrant.”

Eaves said county officials also have no plans to replace the Buckhead Library. A proposal seven years ago to replace the branch angered residents who wanted to preserve the facility’s architecture, Eaves said.

“The Buckhead Library is an architectural gem,” Eaves said.