Libraries for all, except when they're closed

The Seattle Times has this opinion piece about the falling number of hours the libraries are open. "Don't even try to find a library open in Seattle on Sunday after five."
What is interesting in this piece is that the argument is made for MORE hours, MORE librarians, and that the Internet has "...actually helped spark a library revival in many cities and towns across the country. "


Before I was a librarian, I thought that libraries should be open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends. Now I understand that there are so many security problems and staffing issues, and money issues... it just isn't realistic. Wouldn't it be nice if you could go to a library instead of the big box bookstore?

I lament the reduction of hours; however, Sunday after 5:00pm? Not a lot of places are open after 5:00 pm on Sunday.

How about creating a reading room location that is open 24/7. It could have a few computers some of the major periodicals and a small reference collection.

A great idea in theory. However, questions abound... Do you hire staff to monitor the room? If not, how do you convince current staff to accept a 24/7 schedule? Do you hire security guards to make sure that the computers, periodicals, and books are not stolen? What about custodial staff, do we hire extra custodians or make our current staff work overtime to clean up after the late night users?
I think in most cases having a 24/7 reading room is a great idea, but doesn't work so well in practice... at least in a public library.

I agree with Steffers, a reading room--in theory is a great idea. Additional staff, replacing stolen books, periodicals and damaged computers is a huge budget item. Also, who is there when a computer freezes up and the patron gets angry when he/she can't access the information or chat room? In a public library these are common problems when staff is available. Our nation has become one of I want ____________ (fill-in the blank) and I want it now. Libraries are wonderful examples of democracy in action; free access to free material for all. Libraries are not commercial bookstores. Also, funding is not at the level where public libraries can fund staff at a quality level for access 24/7. I think most communities try to provide the best service and access they can, based on funds available. If libraries try to respond to the immediate gratification mentality, they will lose the professional and quality service that sets them apart from the commercialism of the 27/7 bookstore.

A town in Oregon has a reading room that is not staffed some of the time. They do not have computers but it looks like a good collection of books. Story is at ueriverlibrary.0112.html

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