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Monday, June 25, 2012

This Is the Last Monday (For Now?) You Can Visit the Library

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Consider this a friendly public service announcement.

Starting July 1, thanks to budget cuts, Multnomah County public libraries will no longer be open for business on Mondays. And since the Monday after this one is July 2, that means TODAY IS THE VERY LAST MONDAY you can freely show up to use the bathrooms, enjoy some afternoon air-conditioning, look at the internet, and, maybe, why not, read a book (that they'll even let you take home!).

Details for all the branches, which also include some reduced hours on other days, are at the library's website, but here's a snapshot of what you'll find:

Screen_shot_2012-06-25_at_11.44.50_AM.png

Is it going to be this way forever—especially since we have the nation's second-busiest library system? Hopefully not. Although that's really up to you (and me), the voters.

The tax levy we just approved in May kept awful budget cuts from turning drastic. but it wasn't enough (even with the library dipping into its reserves and the county's general fund offering a bailout) to stop the bleeding. And, so, this week, Multnomah County commissioners will take the first step toward creating an actual library taxing district, a "permanent and stable" source of revenue.

Commissioners are expected to schedule a hearing on the taxing district next month, and could vote to put the issue on the fall ballot. It'll be good for the library, but it comes with a cost. Because of property tax "compression," creating the district could put a pinch on other local governments, like the city of Portland. (Although, with the county out of the business of propping up the library, its operating budget would actually improve.)

And unlike the easy tax vote this spring, opponents will likely muster this fall.

UPDATE 3 PM: The Tribune says the county commissioners want to hold listening sessions at the Central Library and four other branches before any public hearing and vote. And, after the jump, the county offers a more complete list of what is and isn't going to be available on Mondays.

What's not available?

• Any services you normally would access inside a library building: storytime for kids, summer reading, reference desk help, inter-library loan checkouts and reservations, and community-room space. Which is mostly what you think of when you think of a library.

What's still available?

• Library administration—although that's not really something that affects most members of the public.

• Free-for-all book returns. If you need to return a book, book drops will be open and waiting for you. A few staffers will be on hand at all branches to collect books dropped off in one place (like, say, Hollywood) that then need to be ported back to the branch they were checked out at (like, say, Kenton).

• The library system's phone-in question-answering service—although librarians from other communities will the ones who pick up. So you might be okay with general questions, but S.O.L. for county-specific issues.

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