Library officials hope to increase hours in fall

April 24, 1994|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Sun Staff Writer

Harford County Library officials say they will be able to keep the library open 20 more hours a week starting in September if the increased funding in the county's fiscal 1995 budget is approved by the County Council.

Library Director Philip A. Place, who detailed the plans to the County Council in a budget work session Thursday, said County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's proposed library budget of $5.1 million will allow restoration of 50 percent of the hours that were cut in September 1992 because of financial constraints.

The county's contribution to the library's operating budget for fiscal 1995 represents a nearly 19 percent increase, or $818,000, over the previous year's budget of $4.3 million.

Of the increase, Mrs. Rehrmann designated $378,000 to cover salaries, including cost-of-living and step increases. The remainder was designated for new books and supplies and for increasing the hours of operation.

The council must vote on the executive's budget by May 31.

The 20 additional hours will be spread over six of the library's nine branches and will include opening the Aberdeen branch from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. All but the Bel Air branch are closed on Sunday.

In addition, the Edgewood, Havre de Grace, Joppa, Aberdeen and Fallston branches will open at 10 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

And the Bel Air branch will open at noon, instead of 1 p.m., on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The changes will add six new hours of operation at Aberdeen; three hours each at Edgewood, Havre de Grace, Joppa and Fallston; and two hours at Bel Air. Hours at the smaller branches remain the same.

"This is the largest increase in materials funding the library has seen in several years," Mr. Place told the library board of trustees, who approved the budget proposal at its board meeting Wednesday.

One of the largest portions of the increase -- about $60,000 -- will go to the purchase of new books, audiovisual materials and reference items for adults. The proposal also includes $37,500 -- for juvenile services, including new books and reference materials.

The library plans to update the audio books collection and to increase the supply of literary and cultural videocassettes, Mr. Place said.

He noted that audio tapes are popular among the elderly and commuters.

While council members agreed that the library should be open longer, they didn't agree on specifics.

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, a minister, said he doesn't approve of Sunday hours.

But Theresa M. Pierno, a District C Democrat who has two children in secondary schools, said Sunday hours are crucial to students working on projects.

The councilwoman, who represents Bel Air, said she would like to see evening hours on Fridays as well.

Barry Glassman, a District D Republican, said he would like to see longer hours on Saturday instead of Sunday. Most of the branches, particularly those in Mr. Glassman's northern district, close at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Sunday hours are in greatest demand, and Aberdeen was chosen to reopen on Sunday because it is the most accessible branch in the heavily populated Route 40 corridor, Mr. Place said.

The decision to open an hour earlier rather than close an hour later was made because mornings are busier among the business community and among young who have been responsive to morning story hours for children, Mr. Place said.

Library officials reduced the hours of operation by 14 percent in the fall of 1992 because they could not afford to pay employees to staff the branches.

Specifically, they shortened weekend hours, delayed opening most branches until 11 a.m. and moved closing time from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In other business at Wednesday's board meeting, the trustees voted to send the name of Noah Toly, a junior at C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air, to Mrs. Rehrmann as their choice for student representative on the board.

The board of trustees voted last year to add a student as an ex-officio, nonvoting member in July.

Mr. Toly, who will serve during his senior year, was chosen from among candidates from public and private high schools in the county.

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