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Brookline Libraries Looking to Stay Open Longer [POLL]

At a Board of Selectmen's meeting last night, the Library trustees floated the idea of staying open longer, adding Sunday and summer hours to their schedules.

More hours for more books is what the asked for, at a cost of $15,000. Where that money comes from remains to be seen. The Library Trustees asked the Board of Selectmen for money needed to keep the libraries open on Sundays and for more hours in the summer. 

"We're coming to you now to ask for something sort of in the air around Brookline for a long time," Carol Axelrod, Chair of the Library Trustees explained, "All of us who have run for the Trustee position share the experience of being asked by residents of being asked about Sunday hours in the summer."

She said the staff were "anxious to work" these extra weekend days. There is enough available, voluntary staff that the Libraries could cover 11 weekends, which would cost the total of $15,000. 

The Coolidge Corner Library tried , and found that they were not "deluged by outsiders." Axelrod commented that the number of non-Brookline users was less than a typical day. 

"There has also been a pretty clear message from the Jewish communities, who have not been able to use the libraries because it is Shabbat," said Axelrod, adding that they are not the only group asking about these hours.

Where the $15,000 will come from remains to be seen. As the Town develops its budget plan to be approved by Town Meeting in May, Selectman Ken Goldstein suggested asking the Brookline Library Foundation if they would "chip in."

Said Selectman Jesse Mermell, "It boggles my mind that in the summer, where kids are out of school and some kids don’t have anything to do, we shut down one of the places we'd like them to be."

Speaking as a former Trustee herself, Mermell suggested that the trustees request the Foundation run the Sunday hours as a pilot program this year, with the aim of having Town funding in future. Another suggestion, from Selectman Dick Benka, was to find a way to split the cost between the Town budget and the Foundation. 

"I think you’ve heard interest and support for the idea, and we’ll try to find you some money," Selectmen Chair Betsy DeWitt added.

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