New, longer hours of operation throughout the Cabarrus County Library System began Feb. 21.
Cabarrus County Commissioners approved longer operating hours in mid-December and added 15 positions – seven full-time and eight part-time positions – throughout the county’s Concord, Harrisburg, Kannapolis and Mount Pleasant branches.
Thirteen of the 15 positions have been filled, and the county is finishing up the interview process for two part-time positions.
Commissioners approved $227,167 for staffing and operating funds to operate each branch for five full days per week throughout the current fiscal year, as well as to transition to six full days beginning in fiscal 2016.
The funding essentially restores cuts that were made in June 2014, when commissioners unexpectedly slashed millions from the county budget, including $232,513 from the library budget.
Before the hours were expanded, the libraries were open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Now all branches will be open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. On Saturdays, Concord, Harrisburg and Kannapolis will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., while Mount Pleasant will be open 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Emery Ortiz, director of Cabarrus County Public Library System, said extended library hours means more people will have the opportunity to learn, use technology or participate in various programs. The library system has about 72,600 library cardholders.
“We’re adding key positions that will improve patron experiences, and we’re gearing up to provide a service model that Cabarrus residents haven’t seen for a few years,” Ortiz said. “This includes additional outreach services and more program variety at each branch.”
Library staff is in the process of developing its long-term strategic plan, Ortiz said. Staff will focus on customer service and understanding the needs of patrons.
“Our immediate focus is to develop a fun and engaging summer reading program, along with promoting new resources like ‘Pronunciator,’ an interactive learning software, and ‘Zinio for Libraries,’ a service that allows library cardholders to check out digital magazines on their own devices.”
Michael Eury serves as president of the volunteer group Concord Friends of the Library, which helps provide special programs and materials not covered under the library’s budget.
Eury has been a member of the group for four years and has served on its board for three. This is his second year as president.
“The added staff has relieved the burden of the previous staff, who often doubled up for longer shifts during the budget cuts,” Eury said. “The expanded hours allow more accessibility by the general public.”
The extended hours have already allowed Concord Friends of the Library to introduce new programs, such as a movie discussion group that will start March 14.
“I believe our library will continue to adapt to meet the constantly changing needs of its population,” Eury said. “In addition to lending books, movies and music at no charge, it’s the home of a variety of extended-learning classes. It’s also the source of computers and Internet access for many in the community who may lack those resources at home.”
Eury said the commissioners’ decision shows they believe in the library system as a community resource.
Want to go?
The Cabarrus County Public Library will offer the following extended hours of operation: Mount Pleasant branch will operate 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. Concord, Harrisburg and Kannapolis branches will operate 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 704-920-2050 or go to https://www.cabarruscounty.us/government/departments/library/Pages/default.aspx.