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JUNE 28, 2009
End of an Era

When tonight's closing gong sounded at 5 p.m., at the Monterey Public Library, and the last customer left the building, I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Sunday open hours are cut under the Library's reduced budget for the next operating year (July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010).  For the first time in over 30 years the doors will be closed and the Library dark on Sundays, beginning next Sunday, July 5.


My recommendation to close Sundays was made with great reluctance and regret. Although customer surveys showed that the majority of  people who responded were least likely to use the Library Sunday afternoons, many also said that they thought others might need Sunday hours. In fact, many also said that Library hours should be increased, not cut!  


When the City Council approved additional funds for the Library at their June 24 meeting, the California History Room program and the Youth Services program were restored to their current level - one staff member was restored to full-time and one was reinstated to the current level of 30 hours per week.  This removed two of eight Library staff positions from the reduction or elimination list.  I am very grateful. for the Council's decision during these difficult economic times.


However, the Library's approved budget cut is likely to mean that three Library staff members will be laid off and lose their jobs, two full-time staff members will be cut back to half-time, and one vacant full-time position will be eliminated.  That's a loss of 160 hours of regular staff time every week.  And it is truly painful for me to say that the Library cannot maintain a seven-day-a-week, three double-shift day open schedule with this reduced level of staffing, and still retain a minimally acceptable level of services such as ILL, collections processing, retrieval and re-shelving, "Stories for Adults" and other adult cultural programming on the remaining open days.


The Council has asked that the cost for restoring Sunday hours be brought back at a future meeting in July.  The Library Board will be sending that information to the Council for their consideration.  The amount that the Board will recommend will be based on their knowledge of the complexity and interdependency of library operations, their belief in the importance of the public library to the life of a community and their commitment to excellence in library services for today - and tomorrow.


The staff and I have heard from so many of you - letters, emails, phone calls and in person conversations.  Now, more than ever, the staff and I are very grateful for your words of encouragement and support, and we thank you.  Despite these difficult and uncertain times, we are all still dedicated to working together towards the Library IDEA - the Library inspiring, delighting and educating all.  



posted by Kim BB

Categories: Director's BlogIn the Know