The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Hours Cuts Coming to Chicago Public Libraries

By Lindsey Miller in News on Dec 10, 2009 3:40PM

Photo by Michael DaKidd
If you've been going to the library more often since these hard economic times hit (free books, movies, and cds), better double-check the hours: we're getting closer to the Jan. 2, 2010 date on which Chicago Public Library will cut hours at 76 neighborhood branches. Instead of being open 64 hours per week, most library hours will be cut down to 48. For areas with two libraries, hours will be staggered: one will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the other, noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday hours will stay the same, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The three larger libraries in the system, Harold Washington Library Center downtown, Sulzer Regional Library in Lincoln Square, and Woodson Regional Library in Brainerd, won't experience any cuts to their 68 hours per week. To see your local branch's hours, try the Chicago Public Library website.

The Chicago Tribune notes that though more people have been using the library lately, budget cuts have forced the system to make hours and staffing cuts anyway. In the proposed 2010 budget, the library will get almost $94 million, which is down 1 percent from 2009 and down another 1 percent from the year before. To cope with the cuts, the system laid off 120 library pages this year in addition to 53 employees who retired or quit. Because of a hiring freeze in effect, these positions will not be refilled. The remaining staff is being stretched thin and cutting hours were a way to reduce the strain.

Despite the hours cuts, the Chicago Public Library system plans to open five new branches on donated land in 2010 and 2011. A new satellite branch also recently opened in the Chicago Water Works Visitor's Center at 163 E. Pearson St.