The Friends of the Idyllwild Library delivered a check for $32,500 to the County of Riverside. The money will be used to extend library hours and days from the current 30 hours per four-day week to 40 hours over six days.
The donation was presented to the county three weeks ago and will fund extended days and hours for a year, according to Friends President Adele Voell.
“The [Friends] agreed on a two-year commitment with the understanding that at the end of the first year, we would evaluate whether the extra days and hours were useful,” said Voell. “If they are, we agreed to a second year commitment, hoping that by that time the economy will pick up enough that the county will have funds to continue [the expanded schedule].”
The two-year period represents the maximum time the Friends would fund the expanded schedule, according to Voell. Factors influencing a second year contribution include attendance and circulation figures.
The Friends have raised money over a period of 14 years. Originally, the money was collected to pay for an addition to the old library. With the new library funded by federal Community Block Development grants, the addition is no longer needed.
County Librarian Barbara Morrow Williams, at a meeting at 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s Hemet office, discussed with the Friends her hope that the new library could have extended hours. At present the county cannot fund those additional hours, hence the Friends’ donation fills a fiscal void the county could not fill at this time.
Voell said one of the reasons for the Friends’ donation is to make the library’s new community room more available for public use, since LSSI, the company that manages county library services, requires two employees be present when the room is in use. During normal hours of operation that is not a problem, but for evening meetings or events, additional staff would be needed.
Williams wrote to Voell regarding the extended hours, “In that 40 hours [10 more than currently scheduled], the Managing Librarian [Shannon Houlihan Ng] will research and determine the new hours, including days and evening hours, and assign staff to work later to cover scheduled events in the Community Room. I know that she will welcome your input and that of the other stakeholders to develop hours that will best meet the needs of the entire community.”
Local groups have already expressed significant interest in using the new Community Room, Voell said. Managing Librarian Ng will record Community Room reservations on a first-come first-serve basis. Reservation policy is still in the formative stage, but Voell said that reservations could only be made for three-month increments.
“I think we’ll be surprised at how well it [the library and Community Room] will be used,” said Voell, who has been a longtime advocate for enhancing library services to the community.
The new library’s official opening and dedication begins at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23.