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Local libraries will be open more often starting in July

The new Atascadero Library opened to the public Saturday, June 7, 2014.
The new Atascadero Library opened to the public Saturday, June 7, 2014. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Starting July 1, all county libraries will add operating hours with the main branches in San Luis Obispo, Atascadero and Arroyo Grande opening on Mondays for the first time in nearly a decade.

The extended hours at the county’s 15 branches is being done without any additional funding from the county budget, said Christopher Barnickel, county library director.

Instead, the library department looked at its staffing capacity and found that staff time could be spread out so that hours could be increased an average of 20 percent per branch.

“Our goal is to increase our public accessibility in a budget-neutral way,” Barnickel said.

Barnickel took over as library director in November and made it a goal to expand operating hours. The three largest branches are now open 50 hours a week. Mid-sized branches, such as Nipomo, are open 38 hours a week. Smaller branches, such as Creston, are open 18 hours a week.

In the spring, the department conducted community surveys to determine how the extra hours could best be used according to community needs. The larger libraries will be open Monday through Saturday. Mid-sized branches typically added evening hours, and the smaller branches had their hours spread out so they are closed fewer days.

The expanded hours of operation restore hours that were eliminated around 2005 after the defeat of a ballot measure that would have generated more money for libraries, Barnickel said.

Also starting July, a $1 hold fee will go away. Patrons can now request up to 10 items from the library system without paying the fee.

“That also increases the public’s access to information,” Barnickel said.

New schedule: Click here to see each library's hours of operation »

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