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Librarians Concerned about Hours

A three month trial run of staying open later at the county libraries has the librarians concerned. They approached the county commissioners at their recent meeting to voice concerns about extending the library closing time to 6 p.m. Commissioner Gary Kofford said they were addressing concerns from patrons who requested that the libraries remain open longer. The old hours were from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. with the Elmo Library open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Commissioner Kofford said they desire to give customer service and be open when the customer needs them.

Librarians expressed concern with the later hours in the winter when it is dark and cold. They mentioned safety issues as well, like being alone after dark in the libraries. The librarians have been keeping records of the use and find very few patrons come in after the 5:30 p.m. mark. Commissioner Kofford wanted to ensure that school children would have adequate time to access computers at the library if they needed help with reports. The librarians reminded the commission that children under 18 cannot go on the internet without a parent present, but can use reference materials on the computer. The libraries haven't seen an increased use by students. They pointed out that in most cases the students are out of school around 3 p.m. which allows adequate time to get to the library.

Commissioner Kofford felt the need to get the word out better to the communities about the later hours. Head librarian, Jerilyn Mathis said they have found out by trial and error that 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. seems to accommodate the patrons better. The librarians mentioned they think they have lost customers between the 9:30-10 a.m. half hour when many patrons utilized the facilities for checking out books or internet use.

The librarians noted that they do have customers who will come in 10 minutes before closing time, no matter what time that is. Commissioner Kofford noted the librarians have some legitimate complaints and they will discuss the issue when the library board meets. For now, the trial basis for the later closing time of 6 p.m. will continue at the local libraries.

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