Government

Saturday hours return to Ladd Library, restoring system to pre-referendum failure

Ladd Library in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jun. 19, 2017. (Gazette)
Ladd Library in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jun. 19, 2017. (Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Ladd Library is scheduled to bring back Saturday hours beginning this weekend, marking a nearly full recovery of the hours eliminated for the entire Cedar Rapids library system, after a referendum to bring the system more revenue failed in November 2015.

The referendum failure was followed by a fiscal 2017 budget cut, which prompted officials to reduce staffing and hours at both Ladd, which is the westside branch library at 3750 Williams Blvd., and the main library downtown, 450 Fifth Ave. SE.

“We hear from citizens that Saturday hours are highly missed, especially from working families with young children who struggle to make it to the library during evening hours,” said Dara Schmidt, the library director, noting Ladd accounts for 30 percent of library use and the goal is to get back to pre-referendum usage levels.

Ladd’s new Saturday schedule is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This brings the library system back to a 68-hour, seven-day-a-week operation as it was before the referendum.

Ladd is open 68 hours a week, while downtown is open 64.

The main library, which had discontinued Sunday hours due to budget cuts after the referendum, saw a return of those hours last year thanks to the City Council calling for additional funding.

Both locations have not restored the 8 to 9 p.m. evening hour on Mondays to Thursdays, but library officials are considering restoring those hours at the downtown location in the next two years without additional staffing or budget requirements, Schmidt said.

Last year, City Council began chipping away at what was lost by directing staff to boost the library’s budget by an additional $100,000. The downtown library added back 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and Ladd started an experimentation with early morning hours, opening an hour early at 8 a.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.

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City leaders agreed to give the library an additional $250,000 funding boost this year to restore Saturdays at Ladd, as well as maintaining the hours added in 2018.

The expanded hours this year required the equivalent of an additional 4.32 full-time staff positions, bringing the total staffing count to approximately 68 full-time equivalents, which is about four more than before the referendum.

The library staffing dropped to around 62 full-time equivalents after the referendum failed.

The city’s general fund covers $4.7 million of the library’s $6.7 million budget, which is about $400,000 more than its budget before the referendum.

The library gets about 68 cents per $1,000 in property value, which is 4.4 percent of the city’s operations levy and gets 6 percent of property tax revenue for operations.

In fiscal 2017, after the referendum failed, the library was getting 72 cents per $1,000 in property value, which was 4.7 percent of the city’s operations levy and 6 percent of property tax revenue for operations.

The library is using none of the 27 cent per $1,000 in property value allowed as a library levy. It had been using 4 cents of the levy and the referendum had sought to max out the levy.

Library hours as of July 1, 2019:

Ladd Library

Monday — Thursday: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Friday — Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sunday — 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

Downtown Library

Monday — Thursday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Friday — Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sunday — 1 p.m.-5 p.m.

• Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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