No more perusing the stacks during Monday lunch hours if county commissioners approve a proposal to close libraries on Mondays.
To compensate for budget cuts, top library officials say they need to freeze 17 positions, including nine for full-time professional librarians. However, this comes at a time when library use is up due to the recession. County figures show circulation of materials is up 27 percent over the same period last fiscal year. Internet sign-up is up 11 percent, and the number of people with library cards is up 6 percent at 227,053.
To deal with the cuts, library staff is asking that the libraries be closed on Mondays. Also, all library branches would open each day at 10 a.m.
"The change will allow libraries to absorb the current reduction in staffing, projected staff vacancies during the current fiscal year, adequately man the libraries in a safe and effective manner and continue to offer the excellent services for which the Pasco Library System is known," library system director Linda Allen wrote in a Feb. 17 memo to commissioners.
The projected savings from such a move would save the county $472,320 in salaries this fiscal year. The reduced hours also might save more in the cost of utilities, but "the recent increase in electric costs may negate any savings in this area."
The recommendation comes less than a year after funding cuts prompted officials to close library branches an hour earlier and postpone purchasing new materials. The library system's $7 million budget took a 10 percent hit. The library also reduced the amount of time materials could remain checked out from 28 to 14 days so they could be available to more patrons. Pasco libraries already are closed on Sundays.
Pasco residents who live near the Hillsborough County line also got another surprise this year when Hillsborough County began forbidding them from checking out materials unless they paid a $100 nonresident fee.
The commission will discuss the recommendation during its next meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the historic courthouse in Dade City.