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Chicago libraries will add hours

Updated: July 16, 2012 2:48AM

In a city facing budget deficits and reduced staffing, at least the Chicago Public Library has managed to add services and jobs without outspending its budget.

The city announced Sunday that the Chicago Public Library would add four hours to Mondays in a number of locations without having to increase funding, a feat accomplished by making library staffing more efficient, officials said.

“We did a major staffing evaluation of all locations and came up with a new way of how we would staff our libraries,” Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon said.

By creating a mix of full-time and part-time positions, as well as relocating positions, the city was able to add morning hours back to Mondays without blowing the budget, Bannon said. The library reinstated a number of employees who had lost their jobs earlier this year and hired new employees to fill these positions.

This means 76 neighborhood branch libraries will be open for eight hours on Mondays, consistent with current summer hours but twice as long as the Monday schedule during the 2012 school year.

The extra hours will allow the libraries to add more early literacy programs, host school visits and engage in outreach programs to schools, officials said.

“By taking a new and creative approach to staff libraries, not only will young children, parents and adults be able to take advantage of services and resources that our community libraries offer for eight hours on Mondays, we have an opportunity to broaden the array of services we offer,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

The Chicago Public Library system has 79 libraries, including two regional libraries and the Harold Washington Library, which are open seven days a week. The other 76 are open fewer days and had to reduce both hours and staff after the city cut CPL funding in its 2012 budget.

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