Just as the kids are itching with boredom and summer temperatures soar, libraries throughout Sonoma County are getting ready to reduce their hours, part of a long-anticipated move to deal with dwindling revenue.
On Monday, Sonoma County Library Commissioners voted to reduce library hours from 52 to just 40 a week, a change that goes into effect August 1. That means all 13 branches around the county will be closed Monday and two hours earlier Tuesdays and Saturdays.
“Not having Monday library service will be difficult for many people,” said Doug Cisney, branch manager at Petaluma Regional Library. “There are a lot of unknowns at this point and things that we are just going to figure out as we go along.”
Since 2009, the Sonoma County Library system has lost over $1.5 million in revenue and commissioners estimate that state funding cuts and reduced property taxes will slash over $600,000 from the 2012 budget.
No positions will be cut and children’s morning programs, popular with families, will be preserved, Cisney said. But the move means that libraries around the county will get more crowded as the same number of people visit in less hours. In fact, over the past couple of years, library usage has swelled, according to Cisney who didn’t have exact numbers.
“We’ve been getting busier each month because of the economy with people not buying books or those who don’t have DVDs or a computer with Internet at home,” he said.
Another change is that substitute librarians will be used much less frequently, meaning that staffers will have to work every weekend, an inconvenience for some. Cisney also said that branches were not given freedom to select a schedule that worked for them, but will have to comply with the same one, despite the different needs of their communities.
"You regret doing this because everybody needs the library," Cisney said. "But with the budget issues everyone is facing, there's no choice."
The new Sonoma County Library schedule is: