Chicago libraries to have Monday hours

January 21, 2012 3:59:31 PM PST
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Saturday he would open branch libraries Monday afternoons beginning Feb. 6.

After announcing Monday closures earlier this month as a cost-saving measure, city officials said they are now reallocating more than $2 million to keep branch libraries open six days a week.

The move will restore 65 positions and shift 25 workers from the Harold Washington Library to the branches to make Monday hours possible, the city said.

The branch libraries will open for four hours on Mondays during the school year and eight hours when Chicago Public Schools are not in session.

"I know our librarians are committed to providing the best services to the children and residents of Chicago, but unfortunately their union leadership would not partner with us on a solution," Emanuel said in a statement. "Keeping libraries open on Monday afternoons ? when children are out of school and need a safe place to study ? is the right thing to do for our students and residents."

At a news conference Saturday, Emanuel added, "We are trying to better manage our time and resources. We are in a tough budget period. We are are committing to our goal to the neighborhoods while committing to the taxpayers to spend money, their money, wisely."

The executive director of AFSCME, which represents library workers, said he did not know the details of the plan but called it a step in the right direction.

"But Chicago residents in the neighborhoods, library employees and our union want the branches fully open and fully staffed," Henry Bayer said in a statement. "Today's plan seems to leave branch libraries closed most Monday mornings and more than 100 library employees still out of work."