Economic Downturn May Impact DC Public Library

Library explores reducing hours citywide

The D.C. Public Library is considering reducing service hours beginning March 2 to accommodate the city’s lower-than-expected revenue projections.

A decision is expected later this week. Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian of the D.C. Public Library, notes that the recommended reduction in hours is designed to have the least impact on the public.

“Libraries are vital, especially in the current economic downturn,” said Cooper. “The proposed plan will keep libraries open seven days a week during times that are convenient for our users and that allow our progra.m.s and activities to continue.”

The Board of Library Trustees asked for a plan because the District’s $250 million projected loss in revenue this fiscal year means that the library is likely not to receive the revenue anticipated. Without that funding, the library has been straining to maintain its current schedule resulting in nearly $280,000 in overtime costs since last October and sporadic closings of some libraries and some select programs or services in libraries for lack of staff.

“Over the past couple of years, the library has gotten busier with a 30 percent increase in circulation. More people are using the library computers to hunt for jobs or seek information,” added Cooper. “We want to be sure we can serve these library users well during the times the library is open.”
Cooper notes that the library has already experienced difficulty providing service due to staffing shortages.

While Cooper hopes that additional reductions will not be necessary, the economic climate may require future reductions.

“I do not envy our elected officials,” said Cooper. “In this tough economic climate they have to make some very difficult choices.”

Proposed new hours (changes in bold):

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library–open seven fewer hours per week
Mon. and Tues., 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Wed. and Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (currently open until 9 p.m.)
Fri. and Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Sun., 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (Labor Day–Memorial Day)

Interim and Neighborhood libraries–each open seven fewer hours per week
On the two evening weekdays the library is open they will now open from noon–8 p.m.
(currently open Mon. and Wed., or Tues. and Thurs. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.)
On the other three weekdays and Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Sun., 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (year-round)

Kiosk libraries–each open eight fewer hours per week
Open Tues, Wed, Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Closed on either Mon. or Fri. (currently open weekdays from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.)

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