Some libraries in Montgomery County soon will be open longer hours during the week and on Sunday afternoons, thanks to a funding bump in the county’s 2013 budget.
Starting Sept. 16, the county's five largest library branches — Bethesda, Germantown, Quince Orchard, Rockville Memorial and Wheaton — will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Currently, most of those branches are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. those days.
The libraries open on Sunday also will get extended hours, opening from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday instead of 1-5 p.m. Those branches are Bethesda, Germantown, Marilyn J. Praisner, Rockville Memorial, Silver Spring, Wheaton and the Gaithersburg interim branch.
Carol Legarreta, public services administrator for branch operations, said residents had a lot to do with getting the libraries open longer.
“We certainly had a lot of county residents that advocated for increased library hours,” she said.
Although the libraries will be open longer than they are right now, Legarreta said they still won’t be open as long as they were before budget cuts hit the library system in recent years.
Between fiscal years 2009 and 2012, the budget for Montgomery County’s Department of Libraries was cut by almost $12 million, leading the department to cut 64 full-time positions and reduce hours at some branches.
“There were more hours cut than we were able to restore, but they did the best they could with the budget they had,” she said.
In his budget recommendation for fiscal year 2013, County Executive Isiah Leggett recommended increasing library funding, and the county council approved it, Legarreta said.
“We were given a little bit more funding for FY 2013, and this allowed us to build back some service hours at some of our branches, which also means adding some staff,” she said.
The fiscal year 2013 budget includes $663,190 to keep the libraries open and staffed for the additional hours, Legarreta said.