Library workers protest Monday hours

Call for adequate staffing for more open hours

January 23, 2012

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(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
Protesters, many of them library workers or laid off library workers, gathered at the Little Village Branch.

Some Chicago Public Library employees are not fully supporting the re-opening of branches on Monday afternoons. Late last week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced neighborhood library branches would open again on Mondays, but only in the afternoons.

City officials are re-allocating more than $2 million in their budget to do that, and to and hire back 65 employees from layoffs.

The move is still getting some criticism. Monday morning library workers and community members gathered at three branches, including the Little Village library.

They chanted, "Mayor Emanuel, listen up! Please don't make theses awful cuts!" as motorists drove down Kedzie Ave., many of them honking in support.

Bridgeport branch librarian Jeremy Kitchen said he's all for branches re-opening Monday afternoons, but only if they're adequately staffed. He said the recent closures of Mondays has been "crazy" for his branch.

"The cuts affect us in many ways. We come into overflowing book drops - to boxes and boxes of books that we have to process to get out to people. We're not able to give the customer service that we take a lot of pride in," Kitchen said.

He said his branch has lost three employees and had existing staff detailed to other libraries. He said they also lost 20 hours a week of open hours. Kitchen wants his branch open 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. When asked what cuts Kitchen could live with, he said he didn't want to see any.

"It's vital services for communities - it's literacy. You can't cut that," Kitchen said. "They want a longer school day, but they want to cut libraries. Does that make sense to anyone?"

Chicago's neighborhood library branches are expected to open Monday afternoons starting February 6th.