Brooklyn Library Branches Will Extend Hours

Despite a $1.1 million budget cut this year, Brooklyn Public Library branches are increasing, not cutting, their hours.

Starting next month, the borough’s 60 public libraries will remain open an average of an additional eight hours per week.

A total of 441 hours have been added to the weekly schedules of the borough’s libraries, raising the branch average to 43.4 hours per week. An additional 16 branches that are now open only five days a week will open for a sixth day. The expanded hours (see also below) go into effect on Sept. 10.

Earlier this year, according to Linda E. Johnson, interim executive director of the Brooklyn Public Library, proposed budget cuts exceeding $25 million threatened to shutter multiple branches.

Once the City Council passed more modest cuts, Ms. Johnson said, the expansion of hours became a possibility. In past years, librarians were forced to spend hours each day on administrative work before libraries even opened to the public. With many of these tasks now automated, Ms. Johnson implemented a system dramatically reducing librarians’ time on the clock during nonpublic hours.

“We’re deploying our human resources in the way that makes most sense,” Ms. Johnson said. “Librarians will now be spending their time with patrons.”

The Brooklyn Public Library is the nation’s fifth largest library system, with a circulation exceeding 20 million items last year, officials said. With more hours of operation, Ms. Johnson said, she expects circulation, program attendance and computer usage to increase.

The new measure places Brooklyn ahead of the Queens Library in average hours per week. The 62 branches in Queens operate for an average of 40.7 hours. The 90 branches of the New York Public Library, spanning Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx, are open for an average of 46.6 hours per week.

The extended hours were first reported on Thursday by The Daily News.

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