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Winnipeg libraries behind the times when it comes to operating hours: report

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A new report says Winnipeg's libraries are behind the times – at least when it comes to their hours of operations.

The report found Winnipeg libraries are, on average, open for fewer hours than those in cities such as Edmonton, Hamilton and Regina. During the summer, Winnipeg libraries are open more than two-and-a-half-hours less each day than Regina libraries.

"It's a chronic concern of the public that libraries are not open more hours, more convenient hours, more consistent hours," said Karin Borland, the manager of library services with the City of Winnipeg.

The report found this is partly because of a policy keeping most branches closed on Saturdays which dates back to the 1960s – a time of single-family incomes.

Many Winnipeg library branches are also closed on Wednesdays too, and in the summer months, library hours are shorter than in the winter.

The report says this is confusing and a source of constant complaints.

Borland said an example of this is the Bill and Helen Norrie Library in the Grant Park area.

"It actually has the highest circulation of library materials in the 20-branch system, including higher than Millennium Library downtown," Borland said.

However, Borland said during the summer months, the library is only open four days a week.

"That is a lot of activity compressed into four days for the staff working in that location."

It doesn't help that many libraries across the city have different hours of operation. Borland said across city libraries, there are six to seven different sets of hours.

"It's very confusing. It's difficult for people to keep track of," Borland said.

The report recommends the city libraries keep longer daily hours of operation and stay open on Saturdays, plus have consistent year-round hours.

To make it happen, the report suggests the city add around 12 new full-time equivalent positions into the library system and spend an extra $2 million in 2024.

"I think the primary motivation for recommending the expanded hours and the staff to support that is what we hear from our customers and from members of the public who actually aren't using the library as much as they could because of the limited hours," said Borland.

The report is set to be discussed at the next community services committee meeting next week. 

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