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Library hours restored
Benefits include longer Saturdays
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Forsyth County News

Other business
Also Tuesday, Forsyth County's library board:
• Restored two paid holidays to staff members, following the lead of county government.
• Agreed to replace nine public computers, five staff computers and two servers at a cost of $32,000.
• Heard a report on library activities, including a 13.9 percent increase in circulation, a rise in library card sign-ups and surge in use of express checkouts. Also, the new Mango Languages online offering posted 476 visits since its Jan. 3 debut.

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

-- Alyssa LaRenzie

This spring, library users will be able to get in more reading time as some hours will be restored to the Forsyth County Public Library branches.

The hours had been shifted and trimmed in late 2009 to meet budget restraints.

But with a little more money coming back in this year, the five-member library board voted unanimously Tuesday to add 13.5 hours per week to its three branches.

Beginning May 1, all the locations will be open longer on Saturdays, moving from a 2 p.m. close time to 5:30 p.m.

Sharon Forks and Cumming libraries will also open earlier on Tuesdays, shifting from the late 1 p.m. start to the usual 10 a.m. opening.

Hampton Park will actually lose three hours on Wednesdays, closing at 5:30 p.m. instead of 8:30 p.m. Those hours were swapped to facilitate Saturday's later hours.

Library figures show Hampton Park is the least busy of the branches, especially at night.

"It's putting the service where it's being used," said Kristin Morrissey, board member.

She also said the new hours will add convenience and ease for visitors since the library branches will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. on most days.

Chairwoman Mary Helen McGruder said she aims to have a library open somewhere at night, and especially during school.

With these hours, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays will have at least one library open until 8:30 p.m., and all three until that time on Tuesdays.

"If we do find that there's an uproar because there isn't a library open somewhere on Wednesday night, we can make some kind of accommodation," McGruder said.

Hampton Park will fill that slot until the hours change in May.

McGruder applauded staff for being able to find a way to keep the libraries open each day despite the budget crunch, and especially on Sundays.

Hours were originally cut to facilitate the costs of opening the third branch, Hampton Park, which debuted in March.

In the 2011 county budget, $124,000 was alloted to the library to help recoup some of the costs associated with opening Hampton Park.

Scaling back hours was one of those sacrifices, so $80,000 of that money will fund the library's new hours for a year.