3 Long Beach libraries to pilot earlier opening hours until September

In an effort to meet residents’ needs, the Long Beach Public Library says it will be extending morning hours at three locations, one in Downtown Long Beach and two in the easternmost parts of the city starting Monday.

Last summer, a public survey released by Long Beach Public Library asked residents for their preference on library hours in response to recommendations made by the City Auditor’s 2021 Library Services Performance Audit meant to close barriers of access for low-income families, non-English speaking households and people with disabilities in the community.

The survey revealed that residents wanted extended morning and evening hours but, according to Christine Hertzel, interim director of Library Services, “the current budget does not provide the staffing numbers or flexibility needed to increase hours significantly.”

Instead, the LBPL opted to meet residents’ needs in a cost-effective way by shifting business hours at three locations to include early opening times and earlier closing times.

Beginning Tuesday, May 31, the Billie Jean King Main Library in Downtown will add three business hours per week and will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Bay Shore Neighborhood Library in Belmont Shore and the Ruth Bach Neighborhood Library near Lakewood Village will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The libraries are normally closed on Sunday and Monday.

The new schedule will last through Sept. 30, the end of the 2022 fiscal year, to determine if the changes are sustainable with the current library budget and staff.

The Bayshore and Bach Libraries were chosen based on the survey responses from those locations; respondents said they wanted earlier morning hours and did not desire additional evening hours. “Recognizing this affects the easternmost parts of town, Library will explore hours expansion and/or shifts in central, north, and west Long Beach through the use of recovery funds, and will report a plan to the City Council on the feasibility of such adjustments in the coming months,” said Hertzel in a news release.

Business hours at all other LBPL locations will remain the same.

“After the pilot concludes on Sept. 30, the Library will evaluate its success during the fall to determine if the change will become permanent,” the release states.

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Laura Anaya-Morga is a general assignment reporter for the Long Beach Post.