Columbus branch libraries expand operating hours

The Chattahoochee Valley Libraries has expanded its operating hours at three Columbus branches.

The Mildred L. Terry Public Library, the North Columbus Public Library and the South Columbus Public Library have added one day of service, from five to six, so they now are open Mondays-Saturdays.

"The public library that is open is the public library that gets used," CVL director Alan Harkness said in a news release. "Our materials and services must be convenient and accessible for our customers and this means being open. Every day hundreds of people seek our help finding jobs, filling out online job applications, and completing resumes. In short, our libraries are more relevant than ever."

Combined, the three libraries are open for an additional 30 hours each week. The local libraries average approximately 1,500 visitors each day, according to the release.

Here is the new schedule:

Mildred L. Terry Public Library, 640 Veterans Parkway:

Mondays and Wednesdays-Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

North Columbus Public Library, 5689 Armour Road:

Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays-Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

South Columbus Public Library, 2034 S. Lumpkin Road:

Mondays-Tuesdays and Thursdays-Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesdays: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The operating hours haven't changed at the system's headquarters, the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road. It continues to be open seven days per week:

Mondays-Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Fridays-Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sundays: 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Harkness told the Ledger-Enquirer on Monday that expanding the operating hours at the branches has been in CVL's strategic plan for years and on his priority list since he became director in July 2013. It has happened now because money is available and the staff has bought into the idea, he said.

"Our Library Board wants our services to be world-class and a core part of that is having operating hours that are more reflective of the needs of our residents," he wrote in an email.

The additional operating hours will cost about $50,000 per year, Harkness said, including staff, utilities, cleaning and security. The extra cost already was envisioned in CVL's budget for fiscal year 2016, which is approximately $8 million, Harkness said.

"Since I came, we've been moving to a staffing model that has replaced a percentage of full-time people with part time people (we've done this through attrition)," he wrote. "The benefits savings have allowed us to hire more FTEs, and be more flexible with that scheduling. Additionally through some retirements, we've been able to garner some savings in that area."

The branches have been operating under the new schedule since December as a "soft opening," Harkness said, and he has received positive feedback from the public and staff.

"They love it," he said.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.