Surprise! I figured it was a question whether I'd first get to a water fountain hike of a large part of North Seattle, or finally finish with the law libraries. But actually, the Seattle Public Library has gone and given me something else to do.
SPL (not very) recently announced an hours cut for the summer, because it's still short on staff and the staff it does have are, unsurprisingly, taking more time off. In turn, the cuts are pretty obviously staff-influenced: they're falling heavily on evening and weekend hours. Another way to look at this is that SPL's librarians looked at your previous pages on library hours, which pointed out SPL as something of an outlier in restoring its previous hours and specifically its evening hours, and thought "Why should we have to work evenings, which all those librarians in other places don't have to nowadays?" SPL claims that it hopes to restore those hours in the fall, but if this analysis is correct, it may find that hard to do. I suspect evening hours for public libraries may become largely a thing of the past around here, because any library system that tries to restore them is going to face internal dissension. But of course I could be wrong, could be under-estimating the true nobility and concern for human welfare of librarians.
Also, I previously told you, dear Diary, that SPL had gone from 14 schedules last October to 13. I'm not sure what effects a set of expanded hours announced in May had on that list, but unfortunately, as of the latest cuts, SPL is back to 14 schedules.
The longer schedules
SPL before the pandemic had four schedules (not five, as I claimed somewhere in the page already cited). Two of those schedules featured open hours per day of eight or ten hours most days, so were significantly longer than the other two. Central Library was open 62 hours per week, and thirteen branch libraries were open 61. The exact hours were 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 5 P.M. for the branches, 6 P.M. for Central, Sundays.
These libraries now have eight schedules:
- Greenwood and Lake City branches are currently keeping their full previous schedules. Greenwood already had been, but for Lake City this is actually an increase of eight hours per week compared to April. If the news release from May is to be believed, Lake City has been cut four hours compared to then; it claimed Lake City was open until 8 P.M. Fridays and Saturdays as well. (But that isn't what SPL's hours page said at the time.) Ballard and Broadview branches had been open their full pre-pandemic schedules already in April, but no longer are.
- Instead, Ballard and Broadview, as well as Beacon Hill, Northgate and Rainier Beach branches, are keeping schedules of 57 hours per week, closing at 6 P.M. Mondays and Tuesdays. For Beacon Hill and Rainier Beach this is a cut of two hours per week. For Northgate it's more complicated. Northgate branch had been closed Mondays until May, and keeping short hours Wednesdays and Thursdays, so compared to that it's an increase of twelve hours per week. But in May all that had been changed - Northgate had been back to its full pre-pandemic schedule - so compared to that it's a cut of four hours per week.
- Northeast branch is also keeping a schedule of 57 hours per week, but instead closing at 6 P.M. Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is an increase of four hours per week compared to April, but Northeast branch had been at its full pre-pandemic schedule since May, so it's a cut of four hours since then.
- Central Library is keeping a schedule of 54 hours per week, by closing at 6 P.M. every day, Mondays through Saturdays. This is a cut of four hours per week, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
- Capitol Hill and Douglass-Truth branches are keeping schedules of 53 hours per week, closing at 6 P.M. Mondays and Tuesdays, opening at noon Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is no change for these libraries.
- Columbia branch is also keeping a schedule of 53 hours per week, but instead opening at noon Mondays and Tuesdays, closing at 6 P.M. Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is a cut of six hours per week.
- Southwest branch is keeping a schedule of 45 hours per week, fewer than three branches that previously had shorter schedules. Its schedule is similar to those of Capitol Hill and Douglass-Truth branches, as was true in April, but now it's also closed on Saturdays.
- West Seattle branch is also keeping a schedule of 45 hours per week, similar to Southwest's except that it's open Saturdays but now closed Fridays.
The shorter schedules
The other two schedules SPL kept before the pandemic were shorter partly because they maxed out at seven open hours per day. They were 1 to 8 P.M. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 P.M. Sundays. Four of the thirteen libraries in question were open Fridays, for a total of 47 hours per week; the other nine weren't, for a total of 40 hours per week.
These libraries currently have six schedules:
- High Point, South Park, and University branches are keeping their full pre-pandemic schedules, 47 hours per week. NB, dear Diary, University branch is thus up seven hours since April, but that happened in May, not July.
- International District/Chinatown branch is now closed Sundays, so it's open 42 hours per week. This is a five hour cut since April.
- Delridge, Fremont and Wallingford branches are keeping their full pre-pandemic schedules, 40 hours per week, as they were in April.
- Montlake and Queen Anne branches are now closed Sundays. This was true of Queen Anne already in April and May, but for Montlake this is a cut. 35 hours per week.
- Green Lake, Madrona-Sally Goldmark, and Magnolia branches are now closed Saturdays as well as Fridays. Only Magnolia had this schedule in April. 33 hours per week.
- NewHolly branch is still closed three days per week, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 28 hours per week.
This isn't complicated. SPL now is more like the neighbouring libraries: These cuts increased morning hours by decreasing evening and weekend ones.
As a reminder, I compared library systems' hours by dividing them three ways. Opening to 3 P.M., Mondays through Fridays, I treated as "morning" hours. 3 P.M. to closing, Mondays through *Thursdays*, I treated as "evening" hours. And 3 P.M. Fridays to closing Sundays, I treated as "weekend" hours.
In April, SPL was keeping 1298 hours per week, of which 483 were morning, 449 were evening, and 366 were weekend. This was 92.5% of the pre-pandemic total and morning hours, 92.0% of pre-pandemic evening hours, and 93.1% of pre-pandemic weekend hours.
Today, SPL is keeping 1267 hours per week. 492 morning, 436 evening, and 339 weekend. That's 90.3% of the pre-pandemic total, 94.3% of morning hours, 89.3% of evening hours, and 86.3% of weekend hours.
SPL is mildly unusual because it has reduced weekend hours more than evening ones, while most neighbouring libraries have done the opposite, and a few have actually increased weekend hours. But it's no longer any kind of outlier.
And we'll just have to wait and see whether it returns to being one this autumn.
I'll be back to you sooner than that, of course, dear Diary, but I'm not sure when. Happy days and nights until then.