By April Betheaabethea@charlotteobserver.com
Starting today, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library branches will be open for fewer hours as the system deals with a $2 million cut in county money.
The reduced hours, along with the layoff of 120 workers, were approved by library trustees last month in response to the budget reduction for the year that ends in June. The system also reduced its maintenance and technology budget.
Library leaders originally voted to close half the system’s branches to deal with the budget cut. But they reversed course after a week of public outcry, instead opting to reduce hours at all branches.
Under the new schedule, most branches will be open five days a week, including at least one weekend day. The Main Library and ImaginOn will be open for six days and will be the only locations to operate on Sundays. The new schedule means some classes, events and storytimes may be rescheduled or canceled.
David Singleton, director of library experience, said the new schedule will reduce the number of hours the libraries are open by a third. Still, he said staff wanted to make sure residents across the county would be able to go to a library near where they live – whether at their neighborhood branch or a larger regional site – at least six days a week.
“We’re trying to provide the most access we can, given our current budget reality,” Singleton said.
The new hours will last at least until June 30. The library system is now considering changes for 2010-11 as the county has asked administrators to show what would happen if the library lost half of its county funding. The library originally received about $34 million this year. New library hours
Main Library and ImaginOnMonday to Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.; closed Friday.
Regional BranchesNorth County, University City, Freedom, Morrison, Independence, South County.Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Friday and Sunday.
Community branchesSugar Creek, Hickory Grove, Mountain Island, West Boulevard, Matthews, Mint Hill, Steele Creek, Cornelius, Davidson, Plaza Midwood, Myers Park, Scaleybark, Carmel.Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; closed Thursday and Sunday.
Specialty branchesCheckIt Outlet, Belmont Center.Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Beatties Ford RoadCurrently under renovationWednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday.