Washington County adds library hours

In 2012, if you needed to visit the Forest Lake library on Monday, you were out of luck.

To save money, Washington County kept the Hardwood Creek branch closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Now it will be closed just on Sundays.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted in October to expand hours at Washington County library locations. The new hours took effect Jan. 2.

Hardwood Creek Branch, located 19955 Forest Rd. N. in Forest Lake, will now be open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday hours were added at all branches. To find a county library open on Sunday, you can go to the R. H. Stafford Library in Woodbury, which will now be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday afternoons — but only through May. The Woodbury library will be closed on Sundays for the summer, June through August.

The Library Express stations in Hugo and Marine are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for pick-up and return.

Hours are posted on the library’s web pages at www.co.washington.mn.us/library.

How much does it cost to open the library on Monday?  Washington County Library Director Patricia Conley said it’s hard to give a number for just one branch, but to have all six branch libraries open on Mondays for one year will total $260,000. Another $24,000 is needed to open the Woodbury library on Sundays.

The branch libraries were closed on Mondays in 2012 because the county library system had a $500,000 budget cut and was forced to lay off 10 percent of the staff.

Monday has always been a busy day, according to Conley. One reason, she said, is that’s the day people refile for unemployment insurance, and “they use our computers.”

Ideally, libraries should be open on Sundays, for adults with a busy work week and students doing homework. Modern students, however, have other alternatives than a physical visit to the nearest library. Conley said homework assistance is offered through online chat from 1 to 11 p.m. every day. In addition, on-line databases are available, and the library offers e-books, so that students can download a required classic and read it on their computers. “So many electronic resources are available now,” she concluded.

Money for the increase in hours will come from increased mortgage and deed filings and from the county postponing a project in the IT department.