Everett Library cutbacks tied to staff shortage
Doug Ramsay file photoEverett library circulation assistant Rachel Wallis sorts through new book releases that will be available in regular circulation at the main branch of the library in downtown Everett in early 2022.
EVERETT — The downtown library isn't open on Sundays anymore, and the branch on Evergreen Way is no longer open on Mondays.
The changes became effective Jan. 1. The city describes the modifications as 'right-sizing' library services to keep being sustainable. All other open hours remain the same.
The cutbacks are because of staff shortages, the city said, and there isn’t the budget to increase staff.
The city's library system is already working to do more with less, former library board president Nick Shekeryk explained last month, with a budget that's 7.6% less than what it had in 2018.
Its operating budget is just above $5 million.
On Dec. 7, City Council President Brenda Stonecipher and Liz Vogeli publicly advocated for moving money in the city's already tight budget to restore the library's staff needs. Stonecipher asked for city administration to report back on options to do so.
In February 2022, both branches extended their evening hours until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and re-introduced Sunday hours at the downtown library as part of restoring hours after a full closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest changes didn’t cause library staff to lose any working hours, city spokeswoman Simone Tarver said. “The change in hours will right-size their hours of operation to better support staff and provide more consistent service to the community.”
The employee union did not require any concessions to accept the changes, Tarver said.
The entire library system is currently open a cumulative 92 hours a week, down from 108 hours a week in 2022.
For a point-in-time comparison, in winter 2014, it was open for 108 hours. A budget cut in the middle of that year pushed it down from 122 hours, from analyzing previously published open hours. Until that cut which took away Sundays from the Evergreen Branch, both branches had the same open hours.
While the free library system doesn’t bring in revenue, “the library does directly impact the Everett economy,” because it saves library members through services that let them support themselves, Shekeryk said. Libraries are a social equalizer and can act as a lifeline, he said.
This year, the library circulated more than 6,000 physical and digital items. It also introduced free menstrual products in restrooms, returned to holding in-person programs, and brought in community partners to hold events, Shekeryk highlighted last month.
It also introduced Lawyers in the Library, a monthly session where low-income people can sign up to speak with attorneys for free every second Tuesday evening at the Evergreen Branch, which is continuing this year.
A program called Primetime Reading is coming to support young readers.
The downtown library relocated to its current site in 1934. It was last expanded and renovated in 1991. The branch library opened in 1985 and expanded in 1989, and again in 2018.
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