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County libraries expand hours to Fridays
Turlock fire fighter Cody Gold reads I'm Brave by Kate and Jime McMullan to local children during story time at Turlock Public Library Thursday morning. The expansion to Friday will allow for more children and adult programs at the county's 13 library branches.

Library users around the county will soon be able to stroll into their local branch on a Friday and peruse all the books, periodicals, and other materials they wish to see, as the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors approved extending operations at all 13 branches.

The 13 branches of the Stanislaus County Library will begin opening on Fridays as of July 8. The vote to open on Fridays was approved by the Board of Supervisors by a 5-0 vote on Tuesday.

Stanislaus County libraries, which rely heavily on a 1/8 cent sales tax for funding, were hit hard from the recession. In the 2008-2009 budget the library system was anticipating a 12 percent funding shortfall and as such the Board of Supervisors approved shuttering each branch for one extra day. In the 2010-2011 budget an additional decrease in funding was projected and the Board of Supervisors approved a reduction of hours from 487 a week to 474 a week among all the branches. The action left all the branches closing on Fridays and opening all other days expect Sundays. The exception was for the four smallest branches — Denair, Hughson, Empire, and Newman — which also closed on Mondays.

Since then the library’s sales tax revenue has been on a steady 5.5 percent increase, according to the County. The revenue has grown from $6.9 million in 2010-2011 to an estimated $9.6 million for 2015-2016. Also during this time the library’s fund balance grew from $3.9 million to $10.1 million, as of June 2015.

With the growth in funds the library has been able to add an Outreach Librarian, purchase new books and other materials, and enhance technology and e-resources availability. But the continual comment seen repeatedly from customers was to have the branches open on Fridays.

Turlock Librarian Diane Bartlett said the request to open on Fridays has been a frequent refrain from many of the Turlock Library users.

“We were always being asked why aren’t we open on Fridays and when are we going to start opening on Fridays,” Bartlett said.

Opening on Fridays will expand the operating hours of all the branches from 474 hours a week to 558 hours a week. The expected cost of opening on Fridays is $623,600 and was included in the library’s Proposed 2016-2017 Budget. The cost increase will cover additional hours for full and part-time employees, and janitorial and security services.

The library believes opening on Fridays will increase circulation and use overall at all the branches, but will have a particular impact on the smaller branches that also serve as community meeting spots. For these smaller branches the change in hours will represent a 20 percent increase in library access, according to the County.

At the Turlock branch an expansion of the hours to include Fridays could bring more options for children and adult programs.

“It’s another opportunity for us to get the public involved in the library’s programs,” Bartlett said.

The first Friday the libraries will be open will be July 8. The Turlock branch will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Denair branch will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main branch in Modesto will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

In addition to opening on Fridays, the Turlock and Modesto branches will be closing one hour earlier on nights currently open until 9 p.m. A review of the hours found the two libraries were infrequently used in the hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The Ceres library will be opening two hours earlier on Saturdays to meet demands for the remodeled facility.