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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Library is Closed this Week

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 15, 2010

The library system will be closed this week, from Aug 16 through Aug 21.


This closed week is part of the library’s “Cost Saving Days” enacted in Oct 2009 as we tried to balance the 2010 budget with a reduction in hours, reduction in the operating budget, the layoff of 13 staff, and the reduction of one payroll period of 2010.


“Cost Saving Days” are a total of 10 days in 2010 in which salaried staff will not work, and will not be paid to work.


Part-time staff will not be scheduled to work during that time period.


Five days will be taken individually around closed holidays in 2010, and other five will be taken this next week.


Why this week of August?  Typically, August is a slower month at the library, and other libraries doing Cost Saving Days have found it to be a better time to be closed.


Many libraries have incorporated Cost Saving Days into their plan to reduce their budget.  In addition to payroll savings, a week of reduced utility bills is also a savings.


The State of Ohio uses this plan to reduce staffing costs, although they allow staff to select the days to be off work.  The size of our staff does not permit that selection process.


So, when is the last time the library system was closed for a week?


The snowstorms of 1950 and 1978 closed the library for 3 days each, and the 1973-74 energy crisis reduced hours temporarily by one day per week.


The oil spill in the Ohio River in 1989 closed the Main Library and Schiappa Branch for two days.


I guess the longest closure was in 1924 when the bottom fell out of the coal boiler at the Main Library causing a 3 month time of no library service.


I forgot that the Dillonvale Branch was closed for awhile before the 1997 building was finished and opened.


My ramblings about the closure of the library system for a week involve my sadness that it is necessary at all.


Each day that I work I watch the influx of people, coming and going from whichever library building I am at the moment.


I notice the 12 incoming phone lines that serve just the Main Library, Schiappa Branch, and Toronto Branch as they often fill to capacity.


The lights flash on the routers and servers that bring Internet to all of our locations for all to use.


I observed the crowd of children at the Tiltonsville Branch sitting on chairs and the floor as the Good Zoo did a program at the end of Summer Reading Club.


A couple from California was busy in the Local History Room searching their family tree in Jefferson County.


And the neverending line of people using the computers to access the Internet continue to amaze me in a world that computers seem to be everywhere.


The Library is the great melting pot of our society today, the place where people of all backgrounds merge in the common goal of information.


I am sorry that this service will be interrupted this week, and hope that the excitement of its return on Aug. 23 will make up for its loss for a week.