Library commission OKs adding extra day 

Six San Francisco branch libraries will open for an additional day of service, according to a plan approved by The City’s Library Commission on Thursday.

Along with San Francisco’s main downtown library, currently seven of The City’s branch libraries have permanent Sunday hours: Chinatown, Excelsior, Mission, North Beach, Parkside, Richmond and West Portal.

In the coming months, six other libraries will add a day of service on either Sundays or Mondays — Ingleside, Merced, Mission Bay, Ocean View, Portola, and Visitacion Valley.

Although all libraries are open on Saturdays, library advocates have clamored for years to have more branches open on both weekend days.

In June, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi secured the $480,000 within this year’s budget to expand Sunday hours, and in January the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution urging the Library’s governing board to increase the number of branches open on Sundays.

The library branches were chosen based on community need, to provide more equal service throughout The City and because they demonstrated high use, among other factors.

Library officials have said that there are several considerations that make opening on Mondays a better option than Sundays. About half of the branch libraries are now closed on Mondays.

There is demand for additional Monday hours, according to staff, particularly for school visits and for families who like to send their children to libraries after school. In addition, fulltime staff who work Sundays would have to be paid overtime or given extra time off, according to a staff presentation given last month.

With a full staff including two librarians, a technical assistant, a library assistant and one or more library pages, the annual cost to add one more day per week to six libraries would be approximately $846,144 — although, according to library officials, the libraries with Sunday openings would be open fewer hours due to the higher labor cost.

Saturdays and Sundays, respectively, are the most valued mornings and afternoons for library visits, according to a survey done by David Binder Research in 2004. Library users polled said Mondays were the most importantevening.

Library activist Peter Warfield, who has fought for many years to expand library hours to Sundays, said that while he is "always glad when there’s more time" when libraries are open, that the desires of library users and the Board of Supervisors shouldn’t have been given more weight in the commission’s decision.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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