Published: Jan 13, 2013 01:51 PM
Modified: Jan 13, 2013 01:52 PM
CHAPEL HILL - The town could close the Chapel Hill Public Library one day a week and limit other services when the expanded building opens this spring.
The library will close its temporary University Mall location in March to prepare for April’s move to the new, 63,000-square-foot building off Estes Drive.
The building will be nearly two and a half times bigger, cover about 1.5 acres and cost more to operate, interim Library Director Mark Bayles said Wednesday.
The library will need at least six more full-time and temporary staff members to handle security, service and checkout desks on two floors, and new teen and computer rooms, he told the Town Council.
All told, the library budget will rise from about $2.4 million to $2.9 million.
About 75 percent of the tentative 2013-14 budget would cover personnel. Other operating costs, primarily utilities, would roughly double to $258,220.
One bright spot is the county’s $460,000 expected contribution under a new agreement, he said.Costs anticipated
The extra costs came up during budget discussions last year..
“We were asked to consider making do with existing staff and come back with a service plan that staff could support,” Bayles said.
The first option saves about $178,000 by shaving 12 hours off the 68-hour service week, he said.
Roughly 1,500 people would be affected if the town closes the library on Sundays and reduces shifts throughout the week, but staff members could continue taking every other weekend off, he said. They also would limit new programs, he said.
A second option is to reduce staff and lock the lower-level doors, but that would inconvenience patrons and make it hard to serve the entire floor, he said.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt recommended closing Mondays instead of Sundays. Council member Ed Harrison suggested closing early, especially on Fridays, and said the town should get the community’s input. Council member Gene Pease said limiting the number of books checked out also might reduce the demand on staff.
Bayles said the town should choose a path soon if they’re going to hire more employees. There are 29 full-time and 34 temporary and contract positions now.
Chapel Hill’s library is one of the state’s busiest, serving roughly 1,100 people daily and circulating more than 1 million items each year. Its programs serve more than 17,000 people annually.
The staff expects a 20 percent increase in visitors when the library reopens, Bayles said.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a $16.2 million bond in 2003 to pay for the construction. The library first opened in 1994.
Council member Lee Storrow said he doesn’t like any alternatives but understands why it’s necessary to grow slowly.
“I think the community’s prepared for that to happen,” he said.