rbpl 1 032714The library’s trustees, below, agreed to add seven hours to the weekly schedule. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rbpl 051514When will the Red Bank Public Library restore Saturday service? That’s the question acting library director Elizabeth McDermott says patrons ask most these days.

Answer: by the end of 2014. With luck.

In the meantime, the library’s newly reconstituted board of trustees board, at a meeting Thursday night, added seven hours to a weekly operating schedule that had been pared to 20 in recent months.

“It’s a start,” said board member Stephen Hecht.

The change, effective June 2, adds three hours to the Tuesday schedule, so that the facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. instead of closing at 2 p.m., and four hours on Thursdays, opening four hours earlier than at present, with new hours of 1 to 9 p.m.

“This is a multiphase plans so that by the end of the year we’ll be back to full hours,” said board president Sara Hansen, an employee of the Ocean County Library system. “But with the staff we have now, it’s impossible.”

At its peak, the library was open 56 hours a week. But after recent layoffs – and the subsequent for the rehiring of McDermott and another librarian after a public outcry – the library is down to six employees, one of whom is in the business office.

“It’s hard to run a two-level building with five people,” McDermott said.

McDermott, filling in until the board hires a replacement for retired director Virginia Papandrea, said that she would be “wearing more hats” and putting in hours at the front desk to make the new schedule work.

In addition to accommodating more patrons, the bolstered schedule puts the library back on track to receiving state aid, which is doled out to municipal libraries based on a host of criteria, including the number of hours open.

The aid “used to be $1.11 per resident. Now it’s down to 41 cents,” said Hansen. For Red Bank, that equates to about $5,000 a year.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that could be a month’s worth of materials or an entire summer program,” she said.