Concerns raised over Sunday hours at library

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Great Neck Library trustees and administrators met in the Lakeville branch on Monday night, discussing topics like Sunday hours and branch library renovations. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Great Neck Library trustees and administrators met in the Lakeville branch on Monday night, discussing topics like Sunday hours and branch library renovations. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Great Neck Library board approved holiday closings and Sunday hours for September 2019 to August 2020 on Monday, which has raised some concern among parents about access to library facilities.

The move also comes a day after the library moved into summer hours, meaning the Main Library and Great Neck’s three branches – Lakeville, Station, and Parkville – are all closed on Sundays until September.

From Sept. 8, 2019, to June 14, 2020, the Station and Lakeville branches will be closed on Sunday, while Main and Parkville are open from 1 to 5 p.m. – a half day.

Marjan Taied, a Great Neck parent with three children who graduated from the public schools, said she believes there is a need for the library to be open on Sundays. The library’s Sunday hours are “very limited,” she said, and don’t give children and graduates easy access.

“It’s a disappointment they have to resort to coffee shops and it’s disappointing not to have the Sunday hours back on,” Taied said.

“Something has to be done about this,” Taied later added. “A lot of parents are concerned.”

Trustee Mimi Hu, citing a Facebook post by Taied that had 41 likes and 22 comments as of Tuesday afternoon, said that it has been a “very heated discussion.”

Acting Director Tracy Van Dyne said she had Steve Kashkin, the business director, run cost estimates for operation of the libraries that are open on Sundays. Personnel costs alone were around $3,200 a day minimum, she said.

“There’s a lot of things that come into play for opening on a Sunday,” Van Dyne said.

Trustee Josie Pizer said there are other factors like air conditioning, lighting, contract restraints and supervision requirements for insurance purposes.

“It’s not just the money,” Pizer said.

Trustee Chelsea Sassouni said that while the board faces some constraints, members should try brainstorming some ideas for limited service hours so people who need access to the library can get it.

“I know we are constrained by costs, union contracts, etcetera, but I would hope we can try and think of more creative solutions,” Sassouni said.

Trustee Scott Sontag said that the library should review having more programs on the weekend, as many are during the week when parents can’t take their children there. He also said reviewing the library’s volunteer policy is “something to explore.”

Rebecca Miller, president of the Great Neck Library board, said the members would take all of these into consideration for further discussion at the policy and Main Library committee meetings.

In unrelated business, trustees also approved a series of request for proposals – or RFPs – related to planned projects for the Lakeville, Station and Parkville branch libraries.

Trustee Barry Smith, the chair of the library’s branch committee, said the board is working with the architect and cost estimator to determine the estimated cost of the project and is “sensitive to the date of the reopening” of the lease in 2024.

“When we get the cost estimate, the branch committee will look at the project again and make adjustments, trimming the fat so to speak, and then we will come back to the board with recommendations,” Smith said.

The goal of the RFP for a moving and storage company for the painting of the Lakeville branch is to get all the services “in line” to come up with a clearer plan on how long the site should be closed, he said.

Trustees approved an RFP for furniture and finish procurement, installation and related services for the Parkville branch renovation.

Smith said members are pushing for an assembly permit and that once the architect for the Great Neck school district, which owns the property, approves the project plans, they can move onto getting a cost estimate for the project.

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