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Change In Library Hours Starts June 30th, 2008

Chelmsford Library logoDue to Town-wide budget cuts in Chelmsford for the upcoming year, the Main Library is reducing its operating hours by two hours each week.

The new Main Library hours are:
Mon - Thu:
Fri - Sat:
9:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The MacKay Library hours have not changed:
Mon & Wed:
Fri & Sat:
10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

These hours will begin on Monday, June 30th, 2008. In addition to reduced hours, the Library also had to make cuts to the budgets for building maintenance, computer equipment, office supplies and travel. The Library is evaluating many of our operations and procedures, to see if further savings can be made in the areas of energy, materials, or staff time.

Library staff still strives to make serving our patrons our top priority, so please let us know if you have any suggestions for cost-savings or adjustments to the services we provide.

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Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 at 5:03 pm and is filed under Library Information.


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3 Responses to “Change In Library Hours Starts June 30th, 2008”

  1. Bob Nichols Says:
    June 30th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Shouldn't we close the MacKay branch before making cuts at the main library?
    It seems to me that the limited resources available should be better focused on the main library.
    How many towns of similar size have two libraries?

    Bob Nichols

    PS: Thank you for running a wonderful library. I use it several times a week and find it the best deal in town.

  2. Becky Herrmann, Library Director Says:
    July 1st, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you for your interest (and for reading our blog!) If you will indulge me for a few paragraphs - I will try to explain the library trustees' thoughts regarding the MacKay Library Branch.

    Seven years ago the library budget took a big hit - the budget was cut by more than $100,000 and at that time one of the budget solutions the trustees chose was to reduce the hours at the MacKay Library - it went from being open six days a week to four. The Branch Librarian position was eliminated and the MacKay book budget reduced. It was not a popular decision and library officials received a lot of complaints about cutting back MacKay services. But it was the right choice - library circulation at the branch flourished despite the reduction in hours and the MacKay Branch Library continues to be one of the busiest branches in the state. It is not a separate library - it is an extension of the Chelmsford Public Library - geographically closer to the residents of North Chelmsford but fundamentally tied to the main library.
    For FY09, with the kinds of hits all departments are taking -- once again, the trustees seriously considered closing MacKay. Here is a bit of the thinking behind the decision to keep it open for this year.

    Things to note:

    • Chelmsford has the highest circulation in the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium -- (52,000+ circulation transactions last month for the Main Library and MacKay - the next highest was Haverhill at only 38,000 - and Andover was close behind.)
    • This puts us on track to have the highest circulation ever, close to 600,000 items this year which will be more than double what we were circulating back in 2001 -- when we had a larger library staff than we currently have.
    • MacKay is busy too. Their portion of that 600,000 is averaging at about 5,000 a month or 60,000 per year - which translates to 10% of our total circulation. This makes them one of the most viable branch libraries in the state relative to size of community. There are currently 111 branch libraries in the state.

    To put that into a dollars and cents perspective - The MacKay Branch portion of the library budget is just a little over $100,000 or 6.9% of the total library budget. So it does 10% of our business for 6.9% of our budget. It's a very good deal.

    If the town chooses to close MacKay - (and with the budget cuts looming for next year, everything will be on the table again) -- the town would still need to spend:

    • $20,000 for the book budget to reach state aid certification level - determined by total population of the town - (If we remain certified, the library receives an additional $55,000 in state aid for library expenses)
    • $35,000 to retain staffing that would provide additional story times, book groups and cover desk times at the main library which would be necessary to deal with the additional 60,000 transactions that will now occur at the main library
    • $10,000 for heat and electricity and the attendant costs for dismantling the collection, de-accessioning materials -- (Heat, electricity, phone costs average $650 per month for a yearly sum of close to $8,000)
    • Actual savings to the town after paying the above would be approximately $35,000

    But then the trustees also considered that if the MacKay Branch closed, the town would end up with a building that is no longer viable for other town services - the will of the MacKay family states that if the house is no longer used as a library, then the property will revert to the MacKay heirs.
    So the town would lose the building -- the neighborhood library -- the community history. Residents would lose close to 100 years of service to the North Chelmsford community for a gain of about $35,000. For the 2009 budget year, the trustees did not think that was worth it.

    That was the discussion for this current budget year. The math will remain the same for next year. But the deficit will be even larger for the town. So as I said - everything will be on the table once more.

    Thanks for your compliments about the library. We are definitely working hard to ensure that town residents get the most bang for their buck - I look forward to future postings on our blog and we welcome the discussion!

    Becky Herrmann, Library Director

  3. Tim Froelich Says:
    July 7th, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I recently moved back to Chelmsford after several years living in Texas. I wasn't aware that the library hours had changed, or that the MacKay branch is only open on certain days now.

    Still, the hours seem more than reasonable. Especially considering the annual circulation numbers compared to the next highest towns and their library hours.

    Long ago I remember going to one of the free outdoor concerts at the MacKay branch on the lawn there. I would be sad to see the building lost for town use and the concert series moved, or worse, canceled entirely.

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