Three Harford library branches to get Sunday hours

At least three Harford County library branches stand to have Sunday hours reinstated after the Harford County Council passed a budget amendment Tuesday night approving the longer hours.

The specific branches have not been finalized, but two of them will most likely be Bel Air and Abingdon, library officials said.

"They have the biggest customer base and they're perfectly kind of in the center of the county," Councilman Chad Shrodes said, adding he hopes branches along Route 40 and in northern Harford County are also considered.

"I think they're going to leave it up to the board of trustees," he said. The board was scheduled to hold its monthly meeting Thursday at the Joppa branch.

Harford's libraries haven't been open on Sundays since the winter and spring of 2009. Following budget cuts in the 2009-10 county budget, operating hours were pared back at many branches and Sunday hours were eliminated completely. Before, most branches had been open Sunday afternoons from October through May.

Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti said she would ask that the board consider demographic concerns in deciding which branches to open on Sundays, and Councilman Dion Guthrie noted the branches in Edgewood and Joppatowne are both very heavily used.

"I have the same concerns," Guthrie said about Lisanti's comment. "I think if we're going to open three branches, it ought to be split all along the county."

Shrodes said he agreed, but also thought if the branches were in the middle of the county, as with Bel Air and Abingdon, it would serve more people.

Council President Billy Boniface asked Councilman Joe Woods, who is on the library board, to take those concerns back to the other trustees.

Library director Mary Hastler said a third branch along Route 40, possibly in Havre de Grace or elsewhere, will be considered.

Lee Crush, an executive secretary for the library system, thanked the council members for their support.

"This means a lot for libraries and the families and residents in the communities of Harford County," she said. "Sunday hours are very, very important to the public, and families really miss being able to visit a library during the winter months."

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