A notice about Labor Day closures is posted on the Dallas Public Library website this weekend. It notes that all libraries are closed today and will resume “regular hours” tomorrow.
If you’re a visitor to the Arcadia Park, Hampton-Illinois or Bookmarks library branches, this might be useful information, but for anyone who frequents the Dallas Library’s other 26 branches, this is an almost ridiculous announcement. That’s because the vast majority of Dallas libraries are closed every Monday. And all but two — Downtown’s Central library and NorthPark Center’s Bookmarks library — are closed every Sunday.
As Dallas ISD Trustee Dan Micciche notes in this month’s Q&A, “if every other city can figure out a way to keep the libraries open more than 40 hours a week, and we can’t do that in Dallas, then we have a problem.” And not only are our libraries open only 40 hours a week, each of the 29 branches operates on basically the same schedule rather than staggering the days they are open and closed. So anyone who might want to visit a library to “improve themselves … learn and dream … look for jobs, earn degrees, learn English,” as Micciche says, would be out of luck on Sunday, a prime weekend day to use the library, or Monday, when the work week begins.
The city’s proposed 2015 budget would add some hours to the libraries, but not many, and not across the board. The sad part is, most of us probably don’t care. “It’s been so long that Dallas has had a vibrant library system that people don’t even know what they’re missing,” says Kate Park of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library.
Mayor Mike Rawlings says he doesn’t want to give more funding to libraries because our library system lacks vision. Maybe, but that’s certainly not all they lack.