Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jacksonville library system's $190,000 consultant report criticizes reduction in hours

Consultants tasked with streamlining the Jacksonville library system gave their initial assessment to a library committee Friday. Among the things they noted were:

-Branches that had their hours cut to 20 hours per week are in areas that need libraries the most.

-Some branches in low-income areas do not have enough computers.

-Branches that are only open 20 hours per week are hot throughout the four hours they are open because air conditioning is not turned on prior to the opening. In one case, a branch was 80 degrees inside at opening.

-One branch had a kitchenette filled with children's supplies, which one consultant said was "just unacceptable."

-Many of the library branches have roofs that are intended for residential buildings, which can cause problems as much as leaks.

The consultants were critical of the board’s recent decision, forced by city budget cuts, to reduce hours at five branches to 20 hours per week — a move that saved $434,907 — because the impacted branches were in neighborhoods that depend on libraries most.

The consultants, who are being paid $190,000, met Friday with a library committee to go over the early results.

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