I am sending the following letter to the Executive Director of the Westchester Library System-- as a follow up to a deicsion by the Mayor of White Plains to close the White Plains Library on Sundays. I am suggesting that the Library Directors meet to discuss various options to keep area libraries open on Sundays (and possibly Saturday evenings). Among the options:
1) The Westchester Library system could provide reimbursement to communities that keep libraries open on Sundays.
2) The WLS could coordinate Sunday hours on a rotating basis. Participating Westchester libraries could be open on specific Sundays (but not every Sunday). A calendar of Sunday library openings could be distributed to library patrons. This would enable Westchester residents to enjoy library services on Sundays even if their own library is not open. Local governments would save money since their libraries would not have to be open every Sunday. The libraries could be divided into regions so that there would always be a library within a region open on a Sunday.
3) Libraries that are open on Sundays should be able to charge non residents a service fee for books taken out --to reduce some of the costs associated with keeping a library open.
I visited the Greenburgh Library this Sunday. It was very crowded highlighting the need for Sunday hours. Many of the library users do not reside in Greenburgh. If White Plains closes their library and other communities follow - additional staffing might be required to meet the demand of a regional library. Greenburgh cannot afford to subsidize the rest of the county. The above suggestions would help address the need for continued Sunday hours and would make it affordable for localities during these difficult economic times.
I am requesting an opportunity to meet with the Westchester Library System to discuss these suggestions and other options.
Terry Kirschner, Executive Director
Westchester Library System
540 White Plains Road Suite 200
Tarrytown, NY 10591
Dear Mr. Kirschner:
This letter is being written to suggest a meeting with all the Library Directors from around the county to discuss Sunday hours. This past Sunday the Journal News reported the closing of the White Plains Public Library on Sundays. My guess is that other communities, experiencing budget problems will also consider closing down library operations on Sunday as well.
On Sunday I had the opportunity to visit the Greenburgh Library. I was very impressed. Hundreds of people were at the library, enjoying the books, computers, reading rooms. The problem: Many of the library visitors do not reside in Greenburgh. Yet, Greenburgh is absorbing the costs of providing library services to residents and non residents. When White Plains closes the library on Sunday's turnout at the Greenburgh library will be even greater -- possibly requiring more staff services and additional expenses. Greenburgh residents should not not have to absorb additional taxes to pay for additional services offered to non residents.
A few options could/should be considered: The Westchester Library System might wish to provide local communities that offer library services on Sundays with a subsidy to help defray costs. When the Greenburgh Library is open on a Sunday it is serving the entire region -- not just Greenburgh. It would be fair if taxpayers from the rest of the county would help defray the costs associated with staffing the library.
Another option: The Westchester Library System could coordinate the scheduling of Sunday hours. You have about 30 participating libraries as members of the WLS. Instead of every library being open every Sunday libraries could rotate the service and be open on specific Sunday's during the calendar year. A calendar could be distributed to library patrons advising them which library is open on a given Sunday. The county could be divided into different sections so every resident who wants to use a library on Sunday can conveniently access the library. For example, White Plains, Scarsdale, Greenburgh, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Irvington, Tarrytown might be in one region. Each of the libraries in the region would be open on a different Sunday during the year.
A third option: To reduce pressure from taxpayers to close down libraries on Sunday's - a non resident service fee could be authorized for each book taken out by non residents. This would help local libraries that are open on Sundays pay part of the expenses.
I believe that libraries should be open on Sundays. There is definitely a need for the Sunday hours. I also would like to see library hours open on Saturday evenings. I would be grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Westchester Library System to discuss these suggestions in greater detail. These suggestions should be considered a first draft -- other options might be considered.
Thanks so much for your consideration.