Montgomery libraries could get more hours -- Gazette.Net







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Eleven libraries could be open for up to four more hours a week after the Montgomery County Council took preliminary budget action Monday.

In an unofficial vote, the council approved $249,000 to expand the libraries’ hours.

An official vote on the fiscal 2015 budget is scheduled for May 22. The 2015 budget year begins July 1.

The branches that would receive extra money were ones that had their hours cut in money-saving efforts in fiscal 2011 and haven’t had any weekday hours restored since then.

The branches include the Davis and Little Falls libraries in Bethesda, Marilyn J. Praisner Library in Burtonsville and local branches in Aspen Hill, Chevy Chase, Damascus, Kensington Park, Long Branch, Potomac, Twinbrook and White Oak.

The money for the extra hours was included in the budget proposal from County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who has made restoring library hours and services a priority as the county begins to restore services lost during the recession.

In the tentative budget approved Monday, the council added $550,000 to increase service hours at all county libraries.

While the council’s Health and Human Services Committee recommended that the decision on which branches receive extra hours and what those hours will be should be left to Montgomery County Public Libraries, Councilman Philip M. Andrews urged that more hours be provided on Sundays.

Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg pointed out that the county’s liquor stores are open on Sundays while many libraries are not.

“It shouldn’t be easier to check out our wine selection than it is to check out a book,” he said.

The budget also includes more than $760,000 for the new library in Silver Spring.

The library in downtown Silver Spring is scheduled to be mostly finished in the fall, with about eight extra weeks for furnishing and moving in.

The new site will be scheduled for 69 hours per week, up from 51 hours at the current location.

The Long Branch Library will be opening the county’s first digital media lab on May 17, said Councilwoman Cherri Branson (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring.

The facility will be a chance to create a new learning space, especially for teenagers, said Parker Hamilton, director of Montgomery County Public Libraries.

The Silver Spring facility will feature a similar media lab, Hamilton said.