My story this week on Saturday closures at San Diego’s downtown central library touched on dwindling hours at the city’s branch libraries.
Service at branches has decreased by nearly 15 hours a week at most branches in the last decade. All but three of the city’s 35 branch libraries now are closed on Sundays and Mondays, victims of the same December budget cuts that did in Saturdays at the central library.
The three libraries that remain open Sunday — La Jolla/Riford, Point Loma/Hervey and Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa — only do so because they receive private funding.
It’s easy to imagine other communities deciding to pony up for increased hours at their branch libraries, too. But it’s not cheap.
This year, it costs about $51,000 to keep Sunday hours at Point Loma and Serra Mesa’s branches and $61,000 at La Jolla, a library spokeswoman said.
Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office has concerns about other communities doing the same. Poorer neighborhoods, mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing said, might not receive the same levels of support.
“We don’t want to end up in a situation where we have haves and have nots,” Laing said.
Laing added the Mayor’s Office still would consider proposals from communities to keep their branches open longer — but they would have to pledge at least five years of longer hours. Beyond equitability, staffing issues make a long commitment necessary, she said. The mayor’s office is encouraging people to donate to the San Diego Public Library Foundation instead.
— LIAM DILLON