AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Amarillo City Council will vote to adopt a budget for the next fiscal year in the next few weeks, and the current proposal includes some changes for the Amarillo Public Library system.
Council member for Place 4, Les Simpson, said the proposed changes would mean adjustments to hours and staffing, but would save taxpayers money.
If the budget passes as written, Simpson said the East, North, and Northwest Branch Libraries will be open an additional six hours and the Downtown and Southwest branches would decrease by six service hours. Those changes would start on October 1, 2023.
“Some branches were open more than other hours. So what the library staff, working with the city staff did, is we established a new budget that does a couple of things. One is all the libraries and all branches will now be open the same hours every day,” Simpson said.
He said the new hours would be Monday-Thurs from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We were actually [able] to come up with a staffing reorganization that saves about $201,000 and we were able to get that through through open positions,” Simpson continued. “So there were open positions at the library, in the library that were already open that we said, ‘Well, with this new scheduling, we won’t have to fill those.’ And I think there were a couple of part time positions as well.”
With the changes to the library hours, he said all branches would be open 64 hours a week.
“There are certain accreditations that the library has, that you have to be open 64 hours a week, and now all of our branches will be over open those 64 hours a week,” he said. “So it’s not going to do nothing to jeopardize any kind of accreditation, and I will tell you our library is it’s respected throughout the state and what they do and as well as in this community, so they do a really good job.”
Simpson also said the council spent more than 40 hours talking about how to fund their various departments in their budget workshops.
“At the beginning, there were all kinds of rumors things happening, that there were gonna be massive cuts to the library, which was not true,” he added. “The library is a lot more than books for many people. It’s a computer if they don’t have access to it, and you know, other types of resources that they may not have access to.”
He continued, “So we certainly realize the importance of [it] and I think it’s really great that we’re able to provide the equal services throughout the entire community for the library services.”