Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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County approves new library schedule with no Sunday hours

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New schedule begins November 15

Alamance County’s libraries are about to embark on yet another new chapter with a systemwide schedule that will, for the first time, synchronize the hours that its three primary branches are open for business.

The system’s new schedule, which is slated to take effect on November 15, will see the county’s libraries in Burlington, Mebane, and Graham open their doors simultaneously at 10:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday. The system’s three branches will, likewise, all dim their lights at 8:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings. Under the new schedule, each branch will be entirely closed to visitors on Sunday.

This six-day-a-week schedule received a formal nod of approval from Alamance County’s commissioners during their latest regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday. The commissioners ultimately signed off on the new hours after Susana Goldman, the library system’s director, laid out the reasons behind the proposed changes.

Goldman told the commissioners that the library system’s adjusted schedule is, in part, a response to visitor traffic, which tends to be sluggish between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on weekdays. The system’s director also noted a drop-off in patrons on Sundays, which had traditionally been a prime time for school children to do research for homework assignments.

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Goldman said that this pattern has changed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as the rise of “remote learning” has allowed students to access a variety of research materials from home.

Goldman told the commissioners that the library system’s own data on usage has largely been corroborated by the results of a survey that she and her colleagues conducted in September. She noted that about 35 of the survey’s 50 participants were generally in favor of the system’s adjusted schedule. She added that most of the survey’s respondents weren’t even put off by the proposed elimination of operating hours on Sundays.

“A few had ‘you’re open Sunday?’ kind of responses,” Goldman said. “But 20 percent of the responses did make requests to keep Sundays.”

In addition to Goldman’s favorable review, the library system’s new schedule came to the commissioners with a recommendation from the appointed advisory board that oversees the libraries in Alamance County. The revised hours also received an endorsement from Craig Turner, who represents the commissioners on the library system’s advisory board.

“I think this is a good idea,” Turner told his fellow commissioners on Monday. “It’s changing based on the patrons’ needs and desire…The [library] board’s on board. They’ve been talking about this for six months – at least. I’m sort of inclined to go ahead and pull the trigger on this.”

The commissioners went on to vote 5-to-0 to implement the new hours on Monday, November 15.

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