Kent Memorial Library trying Sunday hours
KENT — Last month might have marked the first time patrons were able to visit Kent Memorial Library on a Sunday.
The library rolled out a pilot program on July 1 to see if Sunday hours are feasible for the long term. Patrons can visit between noon and 4 p.m. Sundays until Aug. 19.
Adding summer hours was one of the most popular responses in a community survey the library’s outreach committee conducted last year. The library has been open on Saturdays for as long as Library Director Sarah Marshall remembers, but she doesn’t think it has been open on Sundays before.
“Patrons asked for it and we said we’d give it a try,” Marshall said.
The test run coincides with the library’s annual outdoor book sale, which runs from Memorial Day to Columbus Day and takes place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September and on the weekends in October. The sale is a big source of income for the private library and is a tourist destination.
“As long as the weather is nice and the book sale is outside, the town is booming,” Marshall said.
Library staff used visitation numbers for Saturdays to set a 150 daily goal for Sundays in July and 172 for Sundays in August.
Marshall is unsure if the library will meet its goal, especially because there are no programs offered on Sundays. The programs help draw patrons and are offered on Saturdays.
Marshall said those who have come appreciate the extra hours. “People who come are thrilled,” she said.
She said the committee will use the Sunday numbers to decide if it makes sense to continue the extended hours.
“To add another item to our budget has to be worth it,” she said. “People have to really want it and then support by showing up.”
She said the library has a very tight budget and must raise $225,000 annually to stay open, and every nickel matters. She said staff has a responsibility to the volunteers to ensure they spend the money they raise efficiently.
It costs about $1,500 to offer Sunday hours for the season, but deciding to continue it will not just be about money. Library officials will weigh the service with having the staff work Sundays and the cost to remain open to find a balance.
“It’s been a really good team effort,” Marshall said.