One of Patricia Grace’s favorite strategies for keeping her two grandchildren busy is a trip to the library.
Recently, they were in a weekday science class at the University City Regional branch; then the three camped out for a while in the children’s section, with books for Madison Grace, 5, and blocks for Anthony Grace III, 4.
In September, the family will get the option to visit on Sunday.
Mecklenburg County’s Board of Commissioners has approved more than $811,000 in additional funding for libraries in its budget for fiscal year 2013.
That’s an increase of 5.6 percent, for a total contribution of more than $25 million from the county.
The money will pay for opening six of Mecklenburg’s regional libraries for four hours on Sundays during the school year and hiring workers to staff those branches.
“We would like to come to the library,” Patricia Grace said. “There’s not a lot to do on Sundays.”
Library doors will be open from 1-5 p.m. Sundays beginning Sept. 9, through Memorial Day.
Other regional branches that will be open are Beatties Ford Road, Independence, Morrison, North County and South County.
All libraries have closed on Sundays during the summer since 2009, except the main branch and ImaginOn children’s library, both uptown.
Regional libraries were open 76 hours a week only a few years ago. The recession brought budget cuts, and three libraries were closed for good in 2010.
Last year, the library expanded hours at regional locations from 37 to 54 per week after Labor Day, thanks to $2 million in additional funding from Mecklenburg County for 2012.
The additional money for libraries in the new budget will boost weekly hours from 54 to 58. Those hours likely will be prized by students, study groups and Internet users, said LaJuan Pringle, manager at the Independence Regional Library.
Libraries have become important resources for traditional and older students in online study programs, Pringle said. Library staff often supervises testing sessions for distance-learning programs.
“I think it’s going to be great, particularly during the school year,” Pringle said. “We see a number of kids who come in on a daily basis throughout the school year. They also come in at the last minute to complete homework assignments.”
Demand for computer time also is high among job seekers, with more employers now accepting applications only through websites. Job candidates who don’t have computers at home often visit a library.
“I’ve been told by many University City patrons how eager they are for us to reopen on Sunday,” said Julia Smith, manager at University City.
“We have so many students in the University City area who will need for us to be open on Sundays so that they will be able to complete lessons and assignments.”