St. Charles Herald-Guide

The St. Rose library is so good they ought to open it more often

By Barbara Munson - December 6, 2006

I've been an avid reader, a book collector, and a big fan of libraries for as long as I can remember. I enrolled in the summer reading program every year as a kid, I enrolled my daughter when she was a toddler, and I continue to use the local libraries for various reasons. When my computer crashed, the library's computers allowed me to check my e-mail. When I needed to do research, I used the library's subscription to the expensive genealogy website. I continually borrow books, I belong to one of the book discussion groups, and I've even been known to use a meeting room from time to time.

I cannot even begin to tell you how ecstatic I was to learn there was going to be a library branch in St. Rose. I watched the building go up and counted down the days until the doors opened like a child waiting for Christmas, and I wasn't disappointed.

The St. Rose library is a big beautiful new building, chock full of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and videos waiting to be checked out, reference books and assorted publications waiting to be used. There are ten computers connected to the internet, there are meeting rooms for use by local non-profit groups (and they're free), there are programs for small children and programs for teens, and there's a friendly staff ready to help you find whatever it is you need. There are occasional seminars on such issues as diabetes management and how to finance a college education, and there will even be a book discussion group starting in January.

Sounds great, doesn't it? The only problem seems to stem from the really odd schedule for this branch. It closes at 8:00 on Monday, the ridiculously early hour of 6:00 Tuesday-Thursday, and the typical 5:00 Friday and Saturday. It also opens at 10:00 Monday-Thursday, but 9:00 Friday and Saturday. Confusing, isn't it? I don't really care what time the library opens, but the fact that this branch closes two hours earlier than the East & West Regional branches seems absolutely ludicrous to me.

According to the St. Rose staff, their busiest time of day is after 2:30, and their computer usage rivals that of both of the regional branches even though they're open ten hours less per week. The computers are most often used by adults filing online job applications and by school-aged children doing research. Many of the children who use the library have parents who work full-time, and for safety reasons they aren't allowed to leave the house until a parent's home from work. These children often have an hour or less to use the library for their schoolwork before the staff has to usher them out--and the staff tells me this happens on a daily basis.

It seems logical that the public would be better served by extending the operating hours. After all, the library's mission is to meet the needs of the people of the surrounding community, but if the people can't get into the library, has the mission been a complete success?