With many vacant positions, main Beaufort County libraries trim hours by a third


Leaders say shrinking staff was spread too thin.

Nearly one in four jobs at the Beaufort County Library System are vacant and, in the face of county budget trimming, hope has been given up of filling the nearly $800,000 labor hole. 

To deal with the reduction in manpower, the library system is cutting the hours at its three largest branches (Beaufort, Bluffton, and Hilton Head) by a third from 60 hours per week to 40.

The downtown Beaufort branch will now be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The change is effective immediately. 

The full press release on the change is below, and The Island Packet has a report with some added narrative

Library System Reduces Hours Due to Loss of Staff

Effective Monday, June 6, hours will be reduced at most of the branches within the Beaufort County Library System as part of the County's effort to deal with loss of staff. 

Currently, the Library System is short 21 positions; reduction of public service hours will allow the Library to provide services in light of the loss of 25% of its staff. Library Administration developed the new public service hours schedule based upon current customer usage patterns so as to minimize the impact to the community. The Library Board of Trustees approved the new schedule and the South Carolina State Library as required by statute granted a waiver.   

Library Branches in Beaufort and Hilton Head will be cut back from sixty to forty hours per week. They will be open Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All branch libraries in the system will be closed on Sundays.

The Bluffton Branch Library currently operates sixty-six hours a week and will drop to forty. It will be open Monday and Wednesday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday 1 to 6 p.m., Friday 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The Lobeco Branch will remain open for forty hours each week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

The St. Helena Branch, located at St. Helena Elementary School, will remain at twenty-two-and-one-half hours with no change in hours. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m., closed Friday, and open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.   

The new St. Helena Branch Library project will continue to move forward toward a completion date of November 2012. For more information on the schedule change and on other library activities, visit www.beaufortcountylibrary.org .