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Lucas County libraries expand hours

Patrons happy to again spend Sundays among stacks

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Eric Perron of Toledo, in the Sylvania Branch library, looks for books on basement refinishing. Patrons of newly reopened library branches are happy to see the reinstatement of Sunday hours.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Eric Perron browsed for books about basement refinishing Sunday afternoon at the Sylvania branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

He had a how-to hankering and remembered that several branch library locations recently restarted Sunday service for the first time since 2009, when state funding cuts and a decline in property tax valuations led to less funds and scaled-back hours.

Mr. Perron of Toledo was among voters who approved a 2.9-mill levy in November to support the library system. Its passage allowed the library to reinstate Sunday hours from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Sylvania, Oregon, Heatherdowns, and Main libraries beginning Jan. 6.

“My tax dollars at work,” Mr. Perron said.

Until recently, only the Sanger branch opened on Sundays. That location has maintained its Sunday hours, but library patrons who visited other branches on Sunday afternoon appreciated the new, expanded options.

PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo-Lucas County Public Library

Gary McCormick of Sylvania sorted through music CDs at the Sylvania branch, where he planned to pick up some books. He too voted for the levy, in part because of the library’s promise to use the funds to offer more hours and buy more books. Previously he traveled to Sanger for his Sunday library needs.

“As you can see, the place is packed,” Mr. McCormick said of the Sylvania branch, where more than two dozen cars were parked in the lot. “It looks like I was probably the last one to get here.”

Library officials plan to add more hours of operation. Restored weekly and Saturday hours will roll out in early February at some branches, and additional hours at the remaining branches will start in March.

Beginning Feb. 4, the Birmingham, Lagrange, Locke, South, and Toledo Heights branches will be open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. The Kent branch will be open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Maumee and Waterville branches will be open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Restoring hours is a priority, library spokesman Rhonda Sewell said.

“Our history told us that customers really value their weekend hours, especially families who utilize the library,” she said. “They are so busy during the week that it is really hard to get to the library or take advantage of it.”

By early March, the library plans to hire a total of 52 clerical employees and librarians, mostly part-time, to handle the additional operating hours.

Toledo tattoo artist Thomas Lechuga’s search for artistic inspiration led him to the Oregon branch Sunday. As he flipped through art books, he noted the weekend hours were helpful for many families who have to work during the week.

A handful of people waited outside the branch’s locked doors before an employee let them in Sunday.

Branch librarian Tess Luchsinger said reaction to the Sunday hours in Oregon “has been overwhelmingly positive.”

“Word is spreading fast,” she said.

At the Main Library in downtown Toledo, patrons clicked away at computers, selected books, and sat silently in comfortable chairs.

In the children’s area, Patricia Mayes, 15, and her sister turned pages while sitting at a table. They welcomed a little Sunday reading on a chilly afternoon. “I like it when it’s quiet so you can get really into a book,” said the young Patricia, a sophomore at Woodward High School.

Christine Child of Toledo browsed in the stacks at the Main Library, which she frequented on Sundays before hours were restricted.

She’s “delighted” to return.

“The city needs this wonderful library,” she said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.

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