Upcoming changes to operating hours

A letter from Renee Grassi, Library Director

Lake Bluff Public Library will soon pilot a new schedule of hours. Beginning in January, the Library will be closed on Sundays and will have an updated offering of weekday hours. This 6 month pilot will go into effect starting January 1, 2024. I’d like to build context and share information about this change.  

This past fall, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel several Library programs as well as reduce our availability for passport and notary services. Like many organizations driven by part-time workers, the Library has experienced high turnover rates this year. The continued vacancies, in addition to short and long term critical staffing needs, have left the organization struggling to keep our service desks staffed during our 63 hours of operation each week.

Since my tenure began, I have been working with the Library Trustees to evaluate our current staffing model and explore viable, cost-effective and sustainable solutions for providing the highest level of service to the Lake Bluff community. I researched neighboring libraries’ staffing levels and compared their hours of operations with ours. We also acquired updated equipment and software to more effectively measure peak and low times of in-building traffic. In the end, the most influential factors that contributed to this decision were budget constraints and low visit count. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve this six month pilot during the November Board meeting. For additional context and background about this decision, I invite you to view the recording of the November 14, 2023 Board Meeting on our Library’s YouTube channel to learn more.

In a way, though, Lake Bluff Public Library is never closed. We provide 24/7 service through our various online resources. At any time of the day, cardholders can download digital materials on Libby, Hoopla, Kanopy, Bookflix, and Flipster. Lake Bluff Library cards provide free access to in-demand online resources, such as Consumer Reports, LinkedIn Learning, ProQuest, and Mango Languages. If you visit our website, you can even search our online catalog and place a hold on a title from the comfort of your couch. Because of downloadable, online and app-based services like the ones we provide, modern public libraries are so much more than what is housed in their buildings.

I consider myself lucky because I get to witness each and every day the caliber of customer service that our employees give to the Lake Bluff community. The Board and I want to continue to be able to provide the quality of customer service you expect and deserve. We also want to have capacity to soon undertake much-needed improvements to safety and security, building and grounds, and technology. In order to effectively do this, we need to first address staffing. This, in turn, will ensure the organization is optimally positioned to best serve the community and move this important work forward.

Your voice matters. I invite you to share your thoughts and questions about this pilot with the Board of Trustees and myself. You are welcome to stop by the Library to write a comment card, attend a Board meeting, share a message on social media, or email me directly. You can also visit our Library Hours Pilot page for more information, including our new schedule of hours.

Renee Grassi, Library Director

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Library Hours Pilot. Learn more about our ongoing hours pilot.