The Spokane Public Library will be open on Sunday.
It will only be one branch, and not until next year, but the decision marks a milestone for a library system that only a few years ago couldn’t even afford to keep its main branch open on Mondays.
Library Director Andrew Chanse said the Shadle Branch will be open on Sundays next year from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Officials said they chose Shadle because it already attracts a larger attendance on Saturdays than the downtown branch. It also will be cheaper to keep open than the downtown library, which has higher energy bills and requires more staffing.
“I think it will have a big impact on the community,” Chanse said.
The ability to open on Sunday is the result of the library levy voters approved last year. Officials said if the levy passed they would restore all six locations to full-time hours, but they did not promise to open on Sundays.
The change is only expected to cost $6,800 a year because it did not require hiring. Chanse said the decision was made by library trustees in June and is unrelated to the more recent vote to purchase library checkout technology that could result in the elimination of up to 10 library jobs.
Of the 20 largest cities in Washington, only Spokane, Tacoma and Richland don’t have Sunday hours at any of their public libraries. Five Spokane County libraries are open on Sundays: Cheney, Deer Park, Moran Prairie, North Spokane and Spokane Valley.
At the start of this year, hours at the city’s three smallest branches, East Side, Hillyard and Indian Trail, were increased from 22 ½ to 40 hours a week.
The result has been a big boost in usage at those libraries and modest decreases at the three larger locations. Overall, the number of visits was up nearly 5 percent systemwide from January through July compared with the same period last year. The number of items checked out was up more than 4 percent.
Officials expect another boost with Sunday hours.
“It’s one more step toward that promise to be more available and have better services for our library users,” said library Trustee Anne Walter.