Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nashville closes main library on Mondays, trims hours at some branches

No more Monday checkouts downtown as new budget takes effect July 1 By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • June 30, 2009 Donna Nicely has never shut down the main library for a full day each week during her 14-year tenure as director of the Nashville Public Library. But that will change starting next week, when the library at 615 Church St., will be closed on Mondays. "It'll take some getting used to," Nicely said. "We're feeling sad." As Metro government prepares to start its toughest fiscal year in recent memory on Wednesday, most departments are feeling the pinch. But the most visible change to the public will be at the main library. Keesha Ayodele, who was at the library to use its Internet service Monday, said it will sting. She often searches for job openings on Mondays, then spends the rest of the week pursuing them. "I don't like it because this is the start of the week, and that's the best time when you're looking for a job," Ayodele said. "It's going to be really hard." The main library also plans to start closing at 6 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. All told, it will lose 17 of its 64 weekly hours, or about 26 percent. Nicely said the library system's budget is being cut 5.5 percent — about $1.2 million — with about half of that amount coming from the main library. She and her staff chose to shut down the building each Monday because patrons use it more on other days. The library's programs for children also are concentrated on other days of the week. "I think our feeling is that this is the best decision we could make, knowing what the budget requires," Nicely said. "I just feel sure that this is not a permanent decision. We will reopen when things are better." She said the library system's five area libraries — Bordeaux, Edmondson Pike, Green Hills, Hermitage and Madison — and the Southeast branch will remain open Mondays, though they'll open at 10 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. The other branch libraries' hours will stay the same. Community hours cut Metro Parks and Recreation also will cut back a few community center hours and some other services in the new fiscal year. The 12 neighborhood community centers will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this summer, closing two hours earlier than they have been. Once school starts, the centers will be open 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Parks and Recreation spokesman Jackie Jones said. Jones said the change is being made because the morning hours are slower at the neighborhood centers. But the four regional community centers — at Coleman, East, Hadley and Hartman parks — will keep all of their hours. Parks grounds workers also will mow the grass at some parks less frequently. The city's athletic fields and four high-profile parks — Centennial, Hall of Fame, Public Square and Riverfront — will be mowed every seven days, and some other park areas will still be cut every 14 days. But the areas that are used the least will be mowed every 28 days rather than every 21. Mobile clinic saved Some Metro services escaped from the chopping block as the budget process played out. The Metro Council restored 17 jobs that would have been lost under Mayor Karl Dean's proposal, allowing Parks, Public Works and Codes Administration to keep up with mowing, property inspections and other tasks. Gwen Hopkins-Glascock, a Public Works spokeswoman, said the department is losing some workers but the remaining ones have been asked to work harder so the public won't see any changes. The Metro Health Department came close to ending the Mobile Pediatric Assessment Clinic, which has a van that visits schools to give well-child care and health screenings to students on TennCare. Dr. William Paul, the department's director, said it couldn't meet budget cuts by simply trimming programs. If an entire program had to be dropped, losing the van appeared to do the least harm because the TennCare recipients "all have a doctor somewhere," Paul said. But the department was able to find a partner to keep some of the program going through the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in North Nashville, which received federal stimulus funds that can underwrite the service.

No comments: