The sun sets beyond the the Evergreen Branch of the Everett Public Library as a person returns some books on Nov. 11, in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The sun sets beyond the the Evergreen Branch of the Everett Public Library as a person returns some books on Nov. 11, in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Everett Public Libraries reducing its operating hours in 2023

Both branches will close Sunday and one branch will close Monday. Library staff cite budget and staffing shortfalls.

EVERETT — Everett Public Libraries will reduce its hours in the new year due to budgetary constraints and staffing shortages, library officials say.

In an email sent Friday to library patrons, staff said hours at both the main library in downtown Everett and the branch on Evergreen Way would be cut starting Jan. 1. Both locations will be closed Sundays and the Evergreen branch will be closed Mondays, the email said.

Operating hours for the rest of the week will stay the same, with both branches open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and closing at 6 p.m. all other days.

Library director Abigail Cooleysaid the reduction in hours was due primarily to budget shortfalls dating from before the pandemic. Cooley said the city has faced a “structural deficit” since 2018, resulting in cuts to library funding starting in 2019.

Economic issues during the pandemic aggravated budget problems and added staffing shortages to boot. The majority of library staff provide customer service and don’t have the option to work from home, so factors like sick leave and vacation time have a significant impact on available employees, Cooley said. Over the last year, she said that often meant that employees faced unstable work schedules and branches were sorely short-staffed, even having to close unexpectedly at times due to lack of staff.

Despite budgetary constraints, Cooley said library staff made an effort last year to expand services to 7 days a week, plus extended hours in the evening. That decision came out of love for what they do and a desire to reach as many patrons as possible, she said, but in retrospect, she characterized the choice as “possibly too aggressive.”

The combination of budget and staffing shortfalls, plus the ongoing squeeze of inflation, means the library system now must “right-size” its opening hours to match the resources it has on hand, Cooley said. She doesn’t anticipate patrons will see any other major changes in the near future, though.

“What’s set for 2023 is essentially stable now, there’s not much we can do to change that regardless,” Cooley said. “But these changes are tied directly to the deficit and until we have an opportunity to increase library funds, it’s not likely we can increase hours again.”

Riley Haun: 425-339-3192;; Twitter: @RHaunID.

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