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Though they were spared further cuts in this year’s budget, the city of San Diego’s library hours remain an endangered species.
All but three of the city’s 35 branches are closed Sundays and Mondays, due to past budget cuts. Those three libraries — La Jolla/Riford, Point Loma/Hervey and Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa — only remain open Sunday because they receive private funding.
Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office added a fourth to the list Thursday. The City Heights/Weingart branch will be open for four hours on Sunday after a one-year, $40,000 grant from well-known philanthropists Price Charities.
The announcement surprised me. Accepting a one-year donation for longer library hours goes against mayoral policy.
Last spring, mayoral spokeswoman Rachel Laing told me philanthropists needed to make a minimum five-year pledge to keep libraries open longer. The Mayor’s Office was concerned that library hours be equitable across different city neighborhoods. It also wanted a longer commitment from donors to secure staffing.
So why the change in policy? Is the Mayor’s Office no longer concerned about equitability or staffing? I don’t know. Spokesman Kevin Klein confirmed it was a one-year grant, but didn’t respond to further questions.