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Residents React To Plan To Cut Days At Library

The library system has to “share the pain,” manager of Woodbury library says, as the county trims its 2012 budget.

Woodbury resident Carol Mader comes to the every couple of weeks.

And she likes coming on Sundays.

“That’s when I usually have free time,” said Mader, who has lived in the city for 20 years.

With news that Washington County starting Jan. 1, 2012, Mader said she was somewhat disappointed.

“It’s a wonderful asset to our community, to have a library like this,” she said.

The Washington County Board this week continued to look at ways to trim its budget in the wake of reduced funding from the state, and that includes the likely closure of libraries on Sundays and Mondays.

“It’s really unfortunate,” said Chad Lubbers, manager of the R.H. Stafford Branch Library in Woodbury. “Governments are strapped for cash right now—Washington County and other governments, too.”

The county’s library system has to “share the pain,” he said.

The Woodbury library is currently open only four hours on Sundays; Mondays are busier, but not as much as Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when the facility sees the most visitors, Lubbers said.

There are four months for things to change, Lubbers said.

“I’m telling myself that this is our worst-case scenario. … But it could happen,” he said.

The Woodbury library is the 12th or 13th busiest library in the state in terms of circulation, Lubbers said, and it ranks sixth or seventh in terms of visitors.

One of those visitors on Wednesday was St. Paul resident Dan Jirovec, a construction worker who helped build the downtown Minneapolis library.

The library near his home “is just trash,” he said, and he comes to Woodbury to use its computers and enjoy Central Park and Lookout Ridge with his family.

“It’s just a nice place,” he said. “Libraries are a good thing."

Jirovec said he understands that the county board has to balance its budget—he would just rather see the funds cut elsewhere.

“This is one of my favorite places to come,” he said. “This would be the last place I’d close.”

Other library systems in the state, including Hennepin County’s, are facing similar issues, Lubbers said.

With the down economy, people will often call from area bookstores and ask if the Woodbury library has a certain title, Lubbers said.

“If there is a saving grace with these cuts coming up, it’s that we have much more material available online,” he said.

Still, library patrons will notice if the Woodbury facility is no longer open on Sundays and Mondays.

“It’s going to be hard for folks,” Lubbers said.

The R.H. Stafford Branch is currently open from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Mark Wackerfuss August 18, 2011 at 02:24 PM
There has to be a better solution than to close the public libraries.This is no legitimate solution. Lets start by examining the library administative expenses and the mismanagement of budgets by these directors. No one has to lose their jobs, the libraries can stay open Sundays and Mondays, and the folks of Woodbury and Washington County will benefit if our County Commissioners have the courage to examine those rewarding themselves for their own mismanagement of the Woodbury and Washington County residents resources.

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