Sonoma County Libraries Dramatically Extend Hours of Operation in New Year

Sonoma County Libraries are expanding their hours of operation in 2022 in an effort to increase accessibility and meet demand for free services and activities, officials said Monday.

All regional branches will now be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the pitches close two hours later at 8 p.m.

A measure passed by Sonoma County voters in November 2016 made those new hours possible, said Ray Holley, spokesperson for Sonoma County Libraries.

Measure Y added an eighth of a cent to the local sales tax – an immeasurable addition to individual purchases that brings in nearly $ 1 million per month to the county library system, according to Holley.

This extension represents 10 additional hours per week in the operation of the library.

Ahead of the New Year, regional branches opened at noon and closed at 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and operated between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

“It’s our job to serve our community, to deliver on the measure Y promise and, more importantly, to keep the promise of a free library that is accessible to as many people as possible for as long as possible,” said Holley. .

Along with the changes in regional branches, the County History and Genealogy Library, a specialist research resource, has increased its daily operations from two hours to six hours, five days a week.

The opening hours of the two branches of the Forestville and Occidental community libraries have not changed. The Santa Rosa Central Library will also continue to be open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday and Wednesday were selected for the longest hours of the week due to feedback from young librarians, staff who work with school-aged children, who determined through school schedules and local homework that staying open later these days would maximize the time children and their families can spend in the library.

Sara Ortiz, chair of the Sonoma County Public Library Foundation, a private, non-profit organization that raises funds to benefit the county’s library system, said she welcomed Monday’s announcement.

“I am absolutely delighted that the opening hours of the library are being extended – especially with the pandemic,” she said, adding that the extended hours will allow people to visit the library after work or to bring in. their children earlier.

Ortiz said the New Hours is an example of the county “keeping promises made”. The extension of library hours, thanks to the revenue generated by the adoption of Measure Y, has been one of the main promises made by supporters of the sales tax increase.

The extended hours bring library hours closer to what they were before the pandemic, officials said.

Budget issues related to the coronavirus have cut the hours and operations of many services across the county, including the library system.

Although the highly transmissible omicron strain of the novel coronavirus is now increasing locally, as well as around the world, Holley said libraries are confident they can safely expand indoor activities.

“It was in the planning stages for two to three months before anyone heard of omicron,” Holley said. “With so many people vaccinated and with so many people getting used to the COVID safety protocol, it just made more sense.”

Library health measures will continue, Holley said, including mandatory indoor masking for all patrons and staff.

Holley added that local libraries are planning to reintroduce a much missed activity – indoor story time – during this year.

During the last two years of the pandemic, libraries have hosted virtual and outdoor storytelling hours instead of in-person activities. But, as the changes in the spread of COVID-19 are better understood, library staff are hoping they can take events inside with community members.

You can contact editor Emily Wilder at 707-521-5337 or [email protected] On Twitter @ vv1lder.

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