Sunday hours will be on trial at the Gleason Library from January through April. The library will be open Sundays during these months from 2 to 5 p.m. The trial will be made possible by an endowment grant matched by The Friends of the Gleason Public Library (FOGPL) and additional fund raising, and will test whether library services not provided in the town budget can be offered through community support. An event on Sunday, November 7, from 2 to 5 p.m., will allow patrons to experience Sunday hours and contribute to the fund-raising effort.
“We’ve heard it consistently,” Library Director Angela Mollet says. “Sunday hours have been on the wish list for a long time.” A survey five years ago rated only Saturday hours as higher. With the library now open Saturdays, Sunday rose to the fore in the most recent survey conducted this spring. After discussions with nearby libraries that have Sunday hours, Mollet concluded, “The benefits clearly outweigh the costs. This meets the needs of all user groups,” especially working commuters and students.
Fundraising to support expanded service is a new idea at the library. “We saw a clear need, but how to do it?” asks Mollet. “We haven’t had a growth budget in years.” Trustee Priscilla Stevens says that Endowment funds, which consist of various bequests and grants, are limited to non-operational and non-salary needs. Typical grants include capital, such as the furniture for the teen area, programmatic additions and professional development.
“This was not seen as operations, but as an extension of the program,” says Stevens, noting that the Sunday hours will include speakers and artisans events. The endowment was deemed an appropriate resource, and the FOGPL agreed to provide matching funds. The final third would come from targeted fundraising. Mollet estimates that each open Sunday will cost $300, most of it wages.
Stevens noted this is the first time the Library has done fundraising for a targeted purpose. Initially, the goal was to be open four to six Sundays, but with the campaign barely begun, the response was so positive that number has been increased to 16. Local businesses, families, and organizations have the opportnity to sponsor a particular Sunday, say Stevens, noting that it will be recognized that “This Sunday was brought to you by . . .”
“I’m excited to see this finally happening,” says Mollet. “The library is a wonderful resource that should be available to everyone.” Stevens says the trial period will provide data that may later support a petition to the FinCom for Sunday hours, “If it works, when things are better, we can go to the town and say this is something we may want to do.”
In the meantime, continued emphasis will be on fundraising to achieve targeted goals. Mollet notes the library recently completed a long-term strategic plan for the years 2011 to 2015 that is based on the spring survey results. Beyond Sunday hours, there is an expressed need to provide quiet areas, to improve the childrens’ computer space, and to digitalize the Wilkins histories of Carlisle as companions to the newly completed Carlisle Historic Survey on CD. “We want the library to be a resource,” says Mollet,”and also a gathering space for community meetings and programs. We don’t want to lose sight of either mission.” ∆