First came the money, then the hours.
The Spokane Public Library board of trustees voted Tuesday to open three outlying branches eight hours a day, five days a week. The decision follows the February special election, when voters passed a four-year property tax levy enabling the Eastside, Hillyard and Indian Trail locations to increase operations to 40 hours a week.
“This really is a celebratory time for us,” said Janice Marich, the board’s chair.
The three branches have toiled under reduced hours since 2005, when city budget cuts forced the board to cut operations at their three least popular locations. Since then, the branches have been open for 221/2 hours a week.
The new hours at all three locations, which will kick in Jan. 2, 2014, will be noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The libraries will be closed Sunday and Monday.
“This will provide a greater opportunity for story times,” said Andrew Chanse, the library’s director. “We also feel the public will be able to remember these hours due to the consistency.”
Dennis Bergstrom will continue as the shared manager of all three branches. The Hillyard branch will add an assistant branch manager, and two full-time librarians will be shared among the branches.
Bergstrom said the levy was “an easy sell” to the people who lived near the outlying libraries. But it became a matter of fairness for the rest of the city.
“Two of our poorest neighborhoods had the shortest hours,” he said. “People knew that wasn’t right.”