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More hours good news for patrons of libraries in Arbutus, Catonsville

LibrariesConservationKevin Kamenetz

This will be the last summer residents did not have seven-day access to their local library as Baltimore County officials announced an expansion of year-round Sunday hours at each of the county's 19 library branches.

The Aug. 22 announcement also included news that the county's four satellite branches, including the Lansdowne Library, will now operate fulltime.

"We have the staff available, and it was one of the things that the customers kept asking for over and over again," said Erin Oh, assistant branch manager at the Arbutus library.

"We're listening to the public," she said. "We want to provide service to our communities as much as we can."

She said the new hours will eliminate confusion and bring more traffic into the libraries while providing a comfortable destination for people looking for a relaxing Sunday afternoon out of the house.

"Now they don't really have to think about it. We're just going to be open on Sundays year round," said Oh on the change from having the Arbutus Library only open Sundays from September to May. "I think service might increase knowing the library is open year round, seven days a week.

"That means they'll have access to all the resources we provide, free WiFi, free public computers, print resources.

"Being able to have a quiet place to study, having a cool place to study, having a place for parents to bring their children," she said. "Just by that fact that we're open they have access to all these things."

The changes, part of a service increase across the county, are scheduled to begin Sept. 8.

It means all 19 Baltimore County Public Library branches will be open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., officials said.

Currently, just four BCPL branches are open on Sundays year-round. Nine others, including Arbutus and Catonsville, were only open on Sundays while schools were in session.

"We have a great staff, we have great collections, but if you're not open, what good is it?" Jim Fish, director of the Baltimore County Public Library system said during an Aug. 22 press conference at the Loch Raven satellite branch.

Fish said the additional staff at the four satellite branches will come from the existing staff pool, and changes were possible after an extensive study of the usage and staffing of the library system.

"I just want to let you know how thankful we are … that you were able to work this out within your existing budget, using your staff to help reallocate resources," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said during the event at Loch Raven. "This is what we're talking about when we talk about being innovative, responsible and efficient: How do we adapt to our existing economic climate and still provide more services?"

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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