One of the most contentious issues of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first budget cycle concerned the slashing of funding for Chicago Public Libraries. Longtime CPL Commissioner Mary Dempsey resigned and hours at neighborhood branches were cut on Mondays.
Today, with the mayor standing behind him, CPL’s new commissioner, Brian Bannon, announced that the full eight hours of Monday service would be restored across the system in the fall. All branches will be open eight hours a day, six days a week. (Libraries have been open Mondays during CPS’ summer break but were scheduled to fall back to shorter hours in September. Hours at regional branches were unaffected.)
According to Bannon, he and his team looked across the system for efficiencies, examined usage and service patterns by branch, and found new ways to use vacant positions to staff libraries. In addition to restoring Monday hours, Bannon stated that early literacy programming for children ages zero to five would be enhanced in the mornings and new opportunities to service teens were uncovered.
The mayor praised Bannon for his efforts. “I asked him to take a fresh look at the way we were organized and staffed,” said Emanuel at this morning’s press conference, calling Bannon’s solution creative, cost-effective and cutting edge. “He came up with a way to make it work for our taxpayers and our children.”