Those who use the Conimicut public library are happy that the facility is now able to provide more hours each week.
“I think it’s great,” said Stacey Fernandes. “It’s nice to have that extra afternoon.”
As a direct result of the public’s wishes, the hours of community branches of the public library have extended by one additional afternoon.
According to library director Diane Greenwald, each library was only open for 20 hours a week, but are now open 24 hours each week, providing more opportunities for the community to take advantage of the various resources.
Fernandes is a member of a knitting group that gathers at the Conimicut branch every Friday. She says the library “provides a community setting where you can get together.”
Over the past three and a half years, the knitting group has provided the chance for retirees to not only practice their knitting but also to socialize, share patterns and recipes, and discuss books.
“We are all avid readers as well,” said Beverly DeLuca.
Marge Ovalles, another member of the group, knows the ability to use the library as a meeting place has provided the outlet for her hobby.
“If we didn’t have this group, we may not get to the knitting. Other things always come up,” said Ovalles.
Conimicut branch supervisor Ann Ricci sees programs such as the knitting group and story hours as important resources for the community.
“We have a large portion of the population that can walk to this branch. We have a lot of schools around the area. [The residents] need a place to go,” said Ricci.
Ricci and her staff feel the addition of an afternoon will allow for them to provide more programs and give the community more access to resources such as computers and free Wi-Fi.
“Those community branches may have a DVD or bestseller that is checked out of the main library,” said Greenwald, adding that the additional afternoon will help accommodate students or those who work mornings.
About a year and a half ago, Greenwald and her team conducted focus groups to determine what the public felt they needed from the libraries. Additional hours were the main request.
“We said as soon as we were able to do that, we would add more hours,” said Greenwald.
Although keeping the facilities open an additional four hours would normally require an additional part-time employee, Greenwald explained that they are able to cover all necessary shifts by streamlining the way they operate the main library. “We did not get additional funds,” said Greenwald. “We are redistributing how we were using the staff here.”
Ricci explained that employees work either 19 or 35 hours a week and will split their time between the main branch and community branches.
Despite the growth in online research and the ability to borrow library e-books from the comfort of home, Greenwald says that the need for town libraries has not diminished.
“They are very well used. Our main library’s usage has been growing every year,” said Greenwald. She attributes the constant use to the various events and resources housed in the various facilities, including story hours, WI-FI access, laptops, crafts, DVDs, bestsellers and children’s books.
“Even though they have limited hours, they get a lot done,” said Greenwald.
Although Ricci has not developed specific programs to utilize the additional Wednesday afternoon hours at the Conimicut branch just yet, she is hopeful for even more in the future. “If we get more hours later on, maybe we can do even more programs,” she said.
Greenwald knows the library is important to the community and that in order for it to be worthwhile, the doors need to be open. “When the doors close, you have all those great resources inside, but people can’t get to them,” said Greenwald.
To Greenwald, the biggest benefit of the new hours is providing the community with convenience and access to those resources and events.
The new branch hours are as follows:
Apponaug Library is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Conimicut Library is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 1 to 5 p.m., and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.
Norwood Library is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 1 to 5 p.m., and Tuesday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.