After years of hoping and wishing, the Tooele City Library has received the green light to open on Mondays.
The Tooele City Council voted unanimously last Wednesday to award the library a budget increase that will fund Monday operations. Once the new schedule is implemented sometime next spring, the library will be open six days a week, with slightly reduced hours on Saturdays to compensate for the change.
Additionally, the library has received a $39,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act. The money will be used to help cover the cost of operating the library six days a week.
The grant will also be used to buy a self-checkout system with radio frequency identification for the library, which will allow the library to increase the number of operating hours without significantly increasing the size and cost of its workforce, said Jami Carter, Tooele City Library director. The library should only need two to four part-time employees to expand to the six-day schedule.
With the grant, Carter said opening on Mondays would add a total of about $30,000 to $35,000 to this year’s library expenses.
However, Carter said that bringing in a self-serve checkout kiosk to the library wasn’t intended solely to reduce the need for new staffers. She believes the technology will allow the library to provide better service to patrons.
“So when you do need help, our staff is really helping you,” Carter said. “Not just facilitating checkout.”
The Monday expansion, though long hoped for by library staff, became essential this year for two reasons, Carter said. The popularity of the library, which averages between 22,000 and 25,000 visitors every month, has the current staff and hours stretched thin.
“We have people who sit in our parking lot to use our wifi when we’re closed,” she said.
Additionally, the growth of the city’s population has reached a point where the library must open six days a week in order to maintain certification with the state. Certification qualifies the library for a number of grants, which, excluding the most recent grant for the self-serve system, brought in $46,000 for the library this year.
Carter said she isn’t sure how soon the library will begin to open to the public on Mondays. She plans to post job announcements for the first two part-time positions this week and hopes to have new staffers hired by January.
At that rate, Carter said, the library could have the new self-serve system online by March, and may introduce the new operating schedule at the same time.
“This will only go online when we’re ready,” she said. “I don’t want to go live haphazardly.”