Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Knox County Libraries to Reduce Hours

Knox County (Tennessee) Public Libraries will be cutting back hours to avoid laying off staff. (They do have a hiring freeze.) Most of us researching genealogy use the McClung Collection the most often of the various branches, so I briefly want to outline how these changes will affect us. Basically, the library will open at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. as in the past. On Tuesday evenings, the library will close at 5:30 p.m. instead of giving us evening hours until 8:30 p.m. (The library will still be open Monday evenings until 5:30 p.m.) The library will not open until 1 p.m. on Saturday, giving researchers who work all week only 4 hours to research on that day. In light of the fact that I've just read about increased library usage in light of the economy, I think that the government officials have made a terrible mistake in cutting library hours. This cut in hours is primarily affecting those who are working. It gives them even less time to use the library. The cut in Saturday hours is the worst thing for me. I live about an hour from the McClung Collection, and it is the best genealogical collection in the East Tennessee area. I usually work Monday nights during the academic year. I rarely used the library on Tuesday evenings because I'd only have a couple of hours to use it by the time I ate and got there after work. Saturday was my prime time to use McClung. Because of church activities, the Sunday hours don't work for me. I'm now reduced to 4 hours of research at the most when I do go. I enjoyed getting there early, going for lunch on Market Square and returning to research until near closing time. As bad as this is for genealogical research, I think the cut in hours will even be worse for potential users of the various branches of the library. You hear the government officials talking about how literacy and other educational measures need to be improved, but when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, it isn't happening! I hope the public outcry will be great. Libraries in Tennessee are already underfunded. I was so disappointed in the selection of materials when I moved here from Ohio. I was a heavy user of the Cincinnati Public Library system when I lived in Cincinnati. When I moved to Tennessee, I ended up becoming a heavier purchaser of reading materials. East Tennessee libraries are inadequate in good fiction, but they are even worse when it comes to the types of non-fiction materials I enjoy (such as history which can be checked out).

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