By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — It’s been 10 years since the public library has been open on Sundays.
A city budget crisis in 2003 led to staffing cuts and the elimination of Sunday hours. At the time, the library was under the threat of losing its state certification due to cuts in programs and services it was forced to make.
Since that time, a lot has changed there.
“We’re currently open 63 hours over six days, which is a state requirement based on the size of the community,” said library Director Carol Verny.
Beginning Sept. 22 and running through May 18 of next year, the library will open its doors on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., with exceptions for holidays. The city provided additional money in the library’s 2014 fiscal year budget to allow for the Sunday hours.
“This is for the school year, September through May, which is typically what libraries do as kids have homework assignments and parents work and might not be able to visit the library during the week,” Verny said. “Sunday is often the busiest day of the week at libraries across the country.”
Mayor James Fiorentini said the library surveyed patrons and one of the things they talked about was their desire to have the library reopen on Sundays.
“People are very understanding that we haven’t been able to do a lot of things over the past decade that we would have liked to have done,” Fiorentini said. “We’ll see how it works out and, if we get a lot of people, we’ll see what we can do to keep it going. But I can’t make any promises.”
He said money to pay for staffing on Sundays comes from state aid. He said the state money also allowed the city to hire three police officers and provided money for playground improvements.
“We could not have done these things without Rep. (Brian) Dempsey’s help,” Fiorentini said of the longtime Haverhill state representative. Dempsey has risen to the powerful position of chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has much influence over state spending.
Verny said the library will have five or six staff members working on Sundays and they will be supplemented by a temporary staffing service run by the Massachusetts Library System.
She said her staff volunteered for the Sundays they wanted to work.
“Many of them were here when we were open on Sundays and have a pretty good idea of what to expect,” she said.
“We’re very happy about it,” she said about the addition of Sunday hours.
Sunday services to be offered at library
Homework help for students
Passes to museums in the region available
Meeting room reservations
Access to the print, ebook and e-resource collections
More information is available from library Director Carol Verny at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-373-1586, ext. 621. Visit online at www.haverhillpl.org.