DC Public Library Sunday Closings

By Richard
November 7, 2007

Due to anticipated staff shortages some libraries will be closed on Sundays

The DC Public Library is anticipating a shortage of staff to adequately provide Sunday hours at all of our branch libraries during the traditional holiday period. To assure that our patrons have access to library services throughout the city during this period we are instituting Sunday library closings at some of our branches.
Sunday service will be maintained at:

  1. Anacostia
  2. Benning
  3. Cleveland Park
  4. Lamond Riggs
  5. Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Library
  6. Mt. Pleasant
  7. Southeast
  8. Takoma Park
  9. Tenley
  10. Washington Highlands
  11. Watha T. Daniel / Shaw
  12. West End

from 1pm to 5 pm. In making this decision, the Library chose neighborhood branches that have good access to public transportation, the highest level of use, the most public access computers, regular use by school children and geography.

Community and Library sponsored programs already scheduled for Sundays will be held. The Neighborhood Library will open for those events. Residents looking for a particular program should check with the Branch Library.

Why is DCPL temporarily suspending Sunday service at some neighborhood libraries?

DC Public Library strives to operate the public library in a manner that is reliable and equitable. Our goal is to provide the best possible service to those who live in the District. We have assessed our staffing capacity over the holiday period. Like other agencies, DCPL has staff with holiday leave plans and “use or lose” leave. Unlike most agencies, DCPL is open to serve the public on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, we are expecting a significant number of retirements by year’s end. Union staffs who work on Sunday must be volunteers.

There will not be enough staff to be open for Sunday library services at all branch libraries. Past practice at DCPL has been to post a note on the front door if there is not enough staff to open. We don’t want library users to find that their library is closed when they come expecting it to be open. For this reason, we choose to be proactive by identifying the libraries that would be closed on Sundays until the end of January. If we find we have enough staff, we will resume Sunday library service sooner.

Eleven neighborhood libraries and MLK will remain open on Sundays. We chose those to remain open based on the following criteria:

  1. best access to Metro and / or frequent bus service
  2. the most public access computers
  3. used by the most school students
  4. located throughout the District

Can volunteers help keep libraries open on Sundays through December and January?

We welcome and rely on volunteers throughout the library! Nonetheless, I do not think this will solve our temporary problem for two reasons:

  1. We just do not have the time to train volunteers to work at neighborhood libraries While it may appear straightforward, the work is quite complex, whether knowing circulation policies and procedures or the variety of print and online resources in reference. The technology employed in our libraries requires expertise and knowledge of specialized library computer systems.
  2. Our union agreement says that volunteers can be used to supplement but not to replace library staff.

Those who are interesting in volunteering at DCPL should contact Bill Turner at (202) 727-4968 to learn of the opportunities available.

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