The Evanston Library Board voted Monday night to restore a day of service to the branch libraries, allowing them to remain open five days a week instead of four, at a cost of $46,645. The vote brought the total library budget for FY11 to $3.9 million.
Board Member Susan Stone said the move wasn't about adding services, but restoring them.
"We're not adding, we're just getting back what we need," Stone said.
In a discussion of ways to reduce the overall budget, the board decided against a plan to open the main branch library later and/or close it earlier. The move would overwork library staff and prevent local groups from using library facilities for early or late meetings, board members said.
"If the library board continues to see legitimacy in cutting services," said Board Member Gail Bush, "then I think that's sending a message that this board accepts and tolerates a diminution of library services to the Evanston community."
The board did vote to cut one thing: a full-time position for an outreach coordinator that has not been filled since July 2008. Cutting the position will save $58,274 in the FY11 budget, which is a shortened budget year of only 10 months, putting the city budget in line with the calendar year.
Voting to open the Main Library at 10 a.m. Monday-Saturday, an hour later than normal, and close at 8 p.m., an hour earlier, would have saved a combined $84,996 if approved.
Prior to the vote, Evanston residents spoke in support of the branch libraries.
Evanston native Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife, spoke out against potential service cuts at the branch libraries.
"Think of your libraries as just a part of your schools," Niffenegger said. "Don't be silly, keep them open."
Six-year-old Leila Cornyn read a written statement to the board, telling them she enjoys the library services such as nice librarians and a scavenger hunt with prizes. "The library's fun no matter what," she said.