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Council: find way to continue Sunday library hours

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The Sunday hours experiment worked so well at the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library that the Watertown City Council wants to make it permanent.

Council members agreed Monday night that the library should remain open Sundays while library administrators and city staff work out the details to continue the program after its eight-week trial run ended Sunday.

“I think it was a success,” said Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns, who had supported the idea and noted that it was something that constituents had requested for several years.

It probably will take some concessions from the city’s employee union to make it work. Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham instructed City Manager Sharon A. Addison and library Director Barbara J. Wheeler to start talking to the union about it.

Ms. Burns said the city has “the absolute right” to make sure the public gets the Sundays on a permanent basis. But Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith cautioned the library still must use fiscal restraint to accomplish the goal.

While she was originally skeptical, Ms. Wheeler said she was pleased with the outcome.

With as many as 420 patrons visiting from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 4, the library averaged nearly 250 patrons per Sunday during the pilot program, Ms. Wheeler said. During an eight-hour shift during the week, 500 to 600 people visit the library, she said.

The library has been trying to promote the new hours to the public, she said.

Two temporary library clerks were hired to work Sundays. Ms. Wheeler also donated her time to work with the Sunday crew.

The library’s regular winter hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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