Merrimack Public Library preparing to stay open longer
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“This was a very hard decision to make. It is difficult to find the right balance between budget cuts and providing the best resources to the community,” said Susan Gustafson, chairman of the library board of trustees. “This will be most difficult for the staff.”
Natural attrition and some unexpected retirements and resignations will allow the library to be opened an extra four hours a week, however the staff that has left will not be replaced, said Gustafson.
“We will leave most of those positions vacant,” she explained.
Earlier this year, library officials were criticized by town councilors for the second year in row regarding their operational budget and staff levels. Highlighting a proposed library budget of $1,069,613 with 28 employees in January, several councilors said the dollar figures did not make financial sense. At the time, the council agreed to cut $50,000 from the library budget.
“We understand that being open more hours when the library’s operating budget has been cut will inevitably impact service levels,” Gustafson said in a statement. “Quite simply, there will be fewer staff covering more hours.”
Still, Gustafson said the trustees want the library’s resources available to residents as much as possible, and think trying the additional four hours is a step in the right direction.
Currently, the library is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., which will shift from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. under the new hours beginning on July 1. Additional hours will be tacked on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Currently, the library does not open until 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, a change that was previously made because of budget cuts. And, the library will remain open until 2 p.m. on Sundays. Currently it closes at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Other major changes are about to take place at the library, as its director, Janet Angus, has announced she will retire on Oct. 1
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