Monday, June 04, 2007


Increasing Services, Decreasing Hours

Chambers County Library System – May, 2007

As of this writing (June 4), the Chambers County Library in Anahuac will go on a “summer hours” schedule, with hours of Monday thru Friday from 8-5, plus our usual Saturday hours of 9-1. This branch has been plagued with a variety of staff health issues for several months, and we have utilized all of our full and part-time resources at all three branches to cover the normal operating hours at Anahuac. During the Summer Reading program, which runs through June and July, library circulation normally increases hugely, and those staff members we have been drawing on will be taxed to their maximum just keeping their own branches open. Anahuac has always been open more (53 hours to 51 and 49) and we hope the closing of 4 hours per week will allow us to cover the summer schedule more adequately. We would also enjoy the luxury of having enough warm bodies to do the job, but sometimes, that isn’t always possible. We expect our commuting residents will feel the pinch on this the most, but we hope that our Saturday morning hours will allow them to visit us till we go back open at night in August.

We have given up the concept that the library system has “slow” months. It used to be that May and August and December were the times we could expect fewer customers, and we could work on desk projects that weren’t as possible when we had patrons who needed our help. We can still notice times when circulation is a bit down, but our site traffic doesn’t stop anymore. A recent national library survey showed that, while only 69% of homes had Internet access, public libraries had 99%. Our access at CCLS is not only there, but faster than a lot of homes, and the addition of our “Hot Spots” has provided a lot of laptop users with additional library time. At Anahuac, for example, a team of oil prospectors have pretty much set up business in the library, utilizing our meeting room areas to work. The computers at every facility are nearly always busy, and while our residents may look like they are just using the computers, they generally manage to grab at least one book or DVD or magazine before they walk back out the door. We’ve also increased our programming: Winnie is planning a weekly movie series in August, which of course, will increase the traffic in what we used to call a “slow” month. Tutoring seems to be developing as a service on the west side, and we have several regular tutors who are trying to find a quiet table where they can work with students needing some assistance. All of these uses of the libraries have changed the concept of what a library is about, and because of our expansion of services and resources, the Chambers County Library System delivers more to our residents.

A short summary of what events we had in May: Hurricane Workshops were held at Anahuac and Mont Belvieu; another video game tournament and lock-in were held at Anahuac; Cheryl Attaway attended the 4th of her 5 sessions of the Small Library Management training; a movie was shown at Mont Belvieu, and a book club discussion for teens was held at Anahuac.

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