Schenectady County

Schenectady County Library System to extend branch hours; board seeks additional resources

Rotterdam Library Clerk Jessica Cain scans returned books back into the computer system on Friday, August 13, 2021.
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Rotterdam Library Clerk Jessica Cain scans returned books back into the computer system on Friday, August 13, 2021.

Based on feedback from a recent survey it conducted, the Schenectady County Public Library system will extend its hours of operation after Labor Day.

“I can’t say it was a surprise,” said Cheryl Cufari, the chairwoman of the library systems planning committee, on Friday.

The new hours starting Sept. 7 are:

  • Hon. Karen B. Johnson Central Branch: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
  • Phyllis Bornt Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday
  • Glenville Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday
  • Mont Pleasant Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday
  • Niskayuna Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
  • Quaker Street Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday
  • Rotterdam Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Thursday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Scotia Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday
  • Woodlawn Branch Library: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday

However, in order to open the libraries for more hours, the libraries need more staff, which was part of the system’s 2022 budget requests to the county.

“It is important to note that the staffing implications of the COVID crisis led to 24 staff members leaving their positions for one reason or another,” Cufari said to legislators during their monthly meeting last Tuesday while explaining the survey results.

She said county manager Rory Fluman and the Legislature amended the library systems’ 2021 budget so three full-time employees could be hired — a librarian, a library clerk and a cleaner. Cufari said the goal is to have the library system open at least 55 hours a week.

The hiring of those employees is helping to allow for the rollout of extended hours.

The library system wants to hire an additional four full-time employees, said Beth DeMidio, the assistant director for Library Operations.

Gary Skotarczak was at the Rotterdam Branch Library Friday afternoon picking up several DVDs. He said he visits different branches because not all are open on the days he wants to go.

“You work around it,” he said. “It’s a different world this last year and a half.”

He said regardless of the hours, the library’s staff works hard to meet people’s needs.

“They bend over backwards to help you,” he said.

Survey results also show that patrons want more than just expanded hours.

“Everything that the board could have asked for, the public has asked for,” Cufari said.

Cufari said the survey indicated constituents want more e-books and other library materials. In order to fulfill those requests, the library has asked for an expanded materials budget. People also responded that they wanted more access to computers and wireless services, too.

“Those in our inner city and rural areas, along with senior citizens, come into the library for technology assistance as well as computer use,” Cufari said to legislators. “The library is relied on as a place that patrons can go to print, make copies and use other services they need for school, job seeking or other important reasons.”

Cufari said the library system has a technology replacement plan to continue updating its technology. Constituents also said they liked using the library as a safe place to meet, for which Cufari said they would need better security camera systems.

“It is now time to invest in the additional staff and resources that are needed to carry out our library mission,” Cufari said to legislators.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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