Naked City

Losing Library Time

In the first high-profile Big Cut of the new, fiscally challenged City Hall era, the Austin Public Library will close its branch locations one day a week beginning the week of June 3. Except for the John Henry Faulk Central Library (which will retain its current hours) and the brand-new St. John's branch (which will close Monday and Wednesday evenings at 5pm), each APL location will be closed either Thursday or Friday -- traditionally the two lightest days for library traffic.

The city's attempt to "manage service delivery" comes as the library attempts to function with close to 20% of its staff positions vacant and captive by the city's hiring freeze. Looking at next year's projected $70 million budget shortfall, observers both within and outside City Hall expect many of those jobs will be eliminated entirely. Library employees will fill in at open branches on the days their regular locations are closed, and APL is racheting up the call for volunteers.

The library's 20 branches have been paired geographically in an attempt to help patrons get to a nearby library when their usual branch is closed, and bus passes will be handed out at all locations. While the plan was crafted to make sure every neighborhood had nearby library service without canceling any youth programs, parents and kids for whom the branch libraries are de facto child care centers are bound to feel the impact. "We have latchkey kids who wait at the library for parents to pick them up," said one City Hall insider. "That's not what the library's there for, but it's a service, and every service is somebody's core service."

Closed Thursday: Oak Springs, Cepeda, Howson, Twin Oaks, Hampton (Oak Hill), Windsor Park, Spicewood Springs, North Village, Pleasant Hill.

Closed Friday: Carver, Terrazas, Yarborough, Riverside Drive, Manchaca Road, University Hills, Milwood, Old Quarry, Southeast Austin, Little Walnut Creek.

(Little Walnut Creek is paired with St. John's, which will close Monday and Wednesday evenings at 5pm. The Austin History Center will also close on Fridays; the Faulk Central Library next door will remain open.)

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