County libraries could reopen Mondays in 2013

WOODBURY — Most Washington County Library branches would reopen Mondays in 2013 under a proposal discussed Monday by the county’s Library Board and will be presented to the Board of Commissioners at a workshop today.

WCL Executive Director Patricia Conley said five of the library system’s six branches would be open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. in 2013 under a proposed six-day schedule. The only WCL branch that remains closed Monday is Valley in Lakeland.

Currently, all WCL libraries are closed Sundays and Mondays. The branches went to a five-day schedule in January in response to the loss of $489,000 in revenue through lost state aid and Lake Elmo’s decision to pull out of the WCL and start a city-run library, taking with it more than $250,000 in levy funds.

Conley told the WCL Board that library administrators looked at options to reopen branches on Sundays and Mondays at the request of county administrators and other officials. She added that WCL branches that would be open Monday are R.H. Stafford in Woodbury, Hardwood Creek in Forest Lake, Park Grove in Cottage Grove, Oakdale and Wildwood in Mahtomedi.

Reopening the five branches would cost WCL $236,000, Conley said. Opening branches on Monday rather than Sunday keeps the county’s libraries hours in line with the days and hours the Stillwater and Bayport Public libraries are open, she added.

“That is our recommendation,” Conley said. “That’s the immediate proposal we are making. We kept the same hours, we’re merely adding a day.”

Conley told the library board that the proposal to reopen some branches Monday was made based on feedback from library users and certain budget assumptions.

“One thing we assumed is a zero percent levy increase in 2013,” she said. “All of this depends on if this is affordable.”

Library Board members gave strong support to reopening branches on Mondays next year.

“I feel very strongly that we need to be open Monday,” said board member Marie Skinner. “The money should be spent on Monday.

“My gut feeling is the commission wants to restore hours to the library,” added Commissioner Gary Kriesel.

County commissioners will discuss the proposal to reopen branches on Monday next year during a workshop with Conley after today’s 9 a.m. county board meeting.