WINDHAM – Starting next week, the Windham Public Library will no longer operate on Saturdays.

The library will remain open Monday through Friday. Although it will be open nine fewer hours per week, library staff will still work 240 hours weekly, according to Library Director Jen Alvino.

The change does not represent a cutback in service, Alvino said.

“It will consolidate all of our staffing resources into those five days, so we’ll have more people in the building to provide better coverage at our service desks,” she said.

Alvino said that the change should strengthen library safety. It will also, she said, prepare the library for its potential entry into the Minerva system, a consortium of dozens of Maine libraries that provides access to 6 million items and advanced computer software.

Library staff applied to enter Minerva in early August. Alvino said she expects to know in the coming days whether the library will be accepted into the system, which will cost approximately $7,900 annually. The Town Council approved funding for the Minerva system in the library’s budget this year.

The library has traditionally used an interlibrary loan system, in which patrons request that librarians order a book on their behalf. The books are retrieved from libraries across the country, and can take weeks to arrive. If the Windham library is accepted into Minerva, the process would become much quicker and more efficient, Alvino said.

“Using Minerva, people will be able to request items right online through a catalog from these other libraries and the items will be delivered within a few days,” Alvino said.

Earlier this year, Alvino eliminated the library’s $2 fee for interlibrary loan requests. She said that requests through Minerva would be free, as well. Since repealing the fee, interlibrary loan requests have increased from about 20 per month to 60. Alvino expects requests to swiftly surpass 1,000 monthly if the library is accepted into the Minerva system.

“It’s not going to be like turning a light switch on,” Alvino said. “It’s going to grow over time. It’s going to be very fast – I would say within a few months.”

Alvino said the new hours will help library staff deal with the high volume of Minerva requests from Windham library patrons, as well as patrons from other libraries, who will be able to request books from the library.


A CLOSER LOOK

Starting Monday, the Windham Public Library will be open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It will be closed on weekends.



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