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Library trims hours due to short funds

(Published February 10, 2003)

D.C. Public Library officials say they will "reluctantly" reduce the operating hours of most library branches on March 3 to absorb an almost $600,000 budget cut imposed last fall by the D.C. City Council.

"Reducing hours was the only way to maintain quality service in all our buildings," library Director Molly Raphael said in a press release issued by the library on Feb. 7.

The Board of Library Trustees voted to reduce the operating hours as part of a package of cuts that included the elimination of vacant administrative and public service positions. Leases for new vehicles and equipment also were among the cuts.

"In light of the libraryís fiscal crisis, the Board of Trustees acted on their responsibility to ensure that all citizens continued to have equitable access to the library system," board President Marie Aldridge said.

"It was a decision we made reluctantly," she added.

The library systemís $26.2 million budget for the current fiscal year is $161,411 less than last yearís budget and $787,159 less than what library officials sought from the mayor and city council.

Reduced hours will mean that all branch libraries will be open five days a week, rather than six. Full-service neighborhood libraries will be open 40 hours a week, instead of the current 52. Smaller community libraries will actually benefit from the change. Their weekly hours will increase from 38.5 to 40.

Copyright 2003, The Common Denominator