Six S.F. libraries may be open an extra day 

Six of San Francisco’s branch libraries would open for an additional day, either Sundays or Mondays, according to a proposal presented to The City’s Library Commission on Thursday.

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

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 $455,000 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.

On Thursday, the Library Commission received a presentation from library staff proposing six branch libraries that would benefit most from being open an extra day: Ingleside, Merced, Mission Bay, Ocean View, Portola and Visitacion Valley. Libraries that would be closed in the next few years for renovations were not considered.

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.

The proposal included three options for adding days, two of which suggested that some of the libraries also open on Monday, not Sunday. According to library officials there is demand for additional Monday hours, particularly for school visits and for families that send their children to libraries after school.

"Sundays is what the supervisors wanted," said library watchdog Peter Warfield, complaining about the proposal to add Mondays.

It is more difficult to hire permanent staff to work on Sundays, City Librarian Luis Herrera told The Examiner last month. Full-time staff that work Sundays would have to be paid overtime or given extra time off, according to the staff presentation. About half of the branch libraries are currently closed on Mondays.

A library survey shows that Saturdays are the most valued day for library visits, although Sundays and Mondays are the next most popular days.

Library commissioners were presented with three options for expanding days at the six libraries — two with a combination of added Sundays and Mondays and a third adding only Sunday hours.

In order to provide 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 less hours due to the higher labor cost.

The Library Commission is expected to vote on the three options at its next meeting.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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