No need to say shhh… the Woodbury library is closed today.
Because of the New Year’s holiday, today, Sunday, Jan. 8, marks the beginning of reduced hours at the R.H. Stafford Branch Library.
In response, the Woodbury library has looked for new ways to deliver materials to users—most notably through e-readers. The library before Christmas held three e-reader classes, all of which were filled to capacity and even had a waiting list.
“We knew (e-readers were) going to be a big gift thing,” said Chad Lubbers, manager of the R.H. Stafford Branch.
More classes are scheduled for February, and library officials have been handing out flyers and fielding plenty of phone calls and emails about e-readers, titles for which are being checked out more frequently of late, Lubbers said.
“Libraries are always dealing with format changes,” he said. “It’s always a matter of how fast we can adapt to our customers’ needs.”
(Lubbers said he had every staffer at the Woodbury library read at least one book on a digital platform.)
Washington County decided to close all county libraries on Sundays and Mondays as part of a cost-cutting measure.
Most people are aware of the new hours, Lubbers said. “But we still get the incredulous phone calls.”
“Most folks have been understanding—it’s just a tough economy to be in right now,” Lubbers said Friday. “There’s a lot of belt-tightening going on, and unfortunately it’s our turn.”
The county was prepared for reduced funding from the state and planned to trim library hours yet keep some branches, including Woodbury's, open seven days a week. But when Lake Elmo opted to back out of the Washington County Library system, deeper cuts became necessary.
The R.H. Stafford Branch is one of the state’s busiest libraries, and Lubbers said usage was up 30 percent from 2010 (though that year the library was open fewer hours than 2011).
“It was a very busy year and you hate to see us lose that momentum,” he said.
When word of the county’s decision to reduce hours at libraries came down last year, residents were somewhat frustrated by the news.
The Sunday and Monday reductions will impact 10 people and the equivalent of 5.5 full-time positions (220 hours of staff time).
The Tuesday through Saturday schedule at the Woodbury library will not change.