After more than a year and a half of limited access during the pandemic, Madison libraries are back to mostly normal hours. Beginning this week, nine local branches are adding back a cumulative 100+ open-hours a week to the schedule.
This change brings the Madison Public Library system to their fully budgeted hours. Director Greg Mickells says this comes after a very difficult time. “I’ve been in this profession a very long time,” he explains.”That was the first time I’ve ever had to close down an entire system. It’s impactful, when you’re leading an organization that is really designed to be this community asset in welcoming and open always to the community to have to close our doors. I’m extremely proud of our staff’s response though, and the resilience that they showed, and the desire to engage and be innovative in the way we’re able to pivot our services.“
He says some of those innovations are here to stay, like delivery to homebound patrons and certain daycares.
The new hours went into effect yesterday, but not all libraries are returning to their pre-pandemic schedules. During last year’s city budget process, the library had to make cuts. The system is now operating with a budget reduced by 5% or about 1 million dollars. Mickells says the cuts resulted in a reduction in staff hours, but they were able to avoid layoffs.
Compared to 2019, the Alicia Ashman, Central, Monroe Street, Pinney, and Sequoya libraries have reduces hours or services. Both Goodman and Lakeview Libraries extend their hours to be open on Sundays. Mickells says the decisions weren’t targeted at the individual libraries, rather the board considered usage data across all libraries. He says the community response has been largely positive. “I just greatly applaud the patience and the continued support that we’ve received from the community through this pandemic time,” he notes. “They were well aware of our challenges. Every time that we introduced or restored one of our services it was greeted warmly.”
A full list of hours can be found here.
Photo courtesy Chali Pittman