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Local libraries to expand hours in January

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The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's main library on Michigan Street in downtown Toledo.

THE BLADE
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A recent online survey told Toledo Lucas County Public Library officials that patrons want additional hours of service — including on Sunday —  and consistent hours of operation throughout the county-wide system.

Library officials have responded.

Beginning Jan. 2., 8:30 p.m. closing times at the Main Library in downtown Toledo and other branches will be pushed back to 9 p.m.

Also, branches that currently open at 1 p.m. on Sunday will open at noon, and the Lagrange Branch will join the 15 other libraries that are open for business on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Holland Library will expand its operation to have Sunday hours.

In all, the library system is going to provide 45 1/2 more hours of service weekly under a resolution approved Thursday by library trustees.

Jason Kucsma, library deputy director, said the survey, completed by nearly 2,000 people ,showed that patrons wanted more time in the library to read, study, or borrow books and other items.

"In general we heard about a need for more library hours," he said.

Another common theme found in the responses is a demand for meeting rooms by people after they get off work, Mr. Kucsma added. The spaces are available to patrons with the expectation that they must be finished by 8:15 p.m. for staff to close at 8:30 p.m.

"One of the things we hear from people is they like to use our community room spaces later," the deputy director said.

Library officials said the expanded hours return service to levels prior to 2009, when state funding cuts and a decline in property tax valuations led to less funds, scaled-back hours, and staff layoffs. 

Following passage of a 2.9-mill property tax levy in 2012, the library restored Sunday hours and expanded daily service to most branches to 8:30 p.m.

Mr. Kucsma could not provide the additional expense that could be incurred for the additional hours on Sunday, when staff are paid overtime. He said the additional 30 minutes will from shifting closing times will be covered by adjustments to employee schedules.

Contact Mark Reiter at markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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