Pat Conley was clear: hours will be cut next year at Washington County libraries.
“It is unfortunate,” she said.
Exactly how those hours will be cut—and where—is still to be decided, said Conley, director of the Washington County library system.
The move is necessary because of a shrinking budget and staff that is stretched thin at the current levels, according to a county memo. Among the eight metro area library systems, Washington County’s ranks fifth among number of open hours and sixth in number of employees.
Taken together, county libraries are currently open 349 hours per week—61 of those are at the in Woodbury. (The Woodbury facility is the sixth most used library in the metro area, Conely said.)
Among the more severe possibilities is a schedule that would take the Woodbury library down to 34.5 hours a week and keep it closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Under the plan, however, no library would fall below 20 open hours per week, the minimum to qualify for state telecommunications funding.
During the discussion, Commissioner Dennis Hegberg said he would like to ensure libraries at least remain open seven days a week. The decisions on how to cut the hours will likely be made later this year when the county board wades through budget decisions.
Meanwhile, library officials are trying to reallocate staff to serve the more heavily used locations and the county is also examining the possibility of a locker system that would allow people to pick up items 24-7.