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East Lake Library to open more hours
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PALM HARBOR – The East Lake Community Library will be open for additional hours starting Jan. 2.

The Palm Harbor Community Service Agency approved the extended hours Sept. 18, following the library advisory board’s recommendation. The library, now open 47 hours per week, will stay open for 10 more hours.

New library director Lois Eannel explained that the objective was to add more evening hours to accommodate commuters, students, community groups and additional programming. The new schedule also will create more consistent opening and closing times to help avoid confusion.

Currently, the library doesn’t open until 10 a.m. Under the new hours, it will open at 9 a.m. every day except Thursday, when it will open at noon.

Thursday morning would be reserved for staff meetings and preparation, large-scale projects such as weeding and computer upgrades. Based on patron counts, Thursday is East Lake library’s slowest day, Eannel said.

The library will now stay open until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 5 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.

The 11-hour days allow Eannel to overlap her staff in two eight-hour shifts – 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. – with part-time staff and volunteers serving as backup.

Waiting until the start of the new year to increase library hours was intentional, she said.

“Giving me time to make necessary staff adjustments, my recommendation to the advisory board was to wait until January,” Eannel said.

The library will remain closed on Sundays.

“I didn’t get my Sunday afternoons, but that’s next year,” said library advisory board member Roger Johnson, voicing his approval of the new hours.

The budget for the East Lake library has increased this year due to changes in the taxing mechanisms that fund it. Instead of relying on funding from the Pinellas County commissioners and the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, the library now is funded through a new municipal services taxing unit, collected from north county residents in the East Lake fire district.

More staff

Eannel also explained the new library position she will be filling to meet the longer hours. The position will serve both youth and young adult services, including collections and programming. The new position will have a salary range of $33,000 to $48,000.

Eannel said she had originally planned to hire two new people, but decided to allocate the additional hours to a current part-time staff person instead.

“After speaking with our IT person, who’s agreed to work additional hours, I’d rather put the money into that person who I know is going to be there for a while,” she said.

The new hire would be in charge of the children’s section and coordinate children and teen programming, working closely with schools and community groups. The library was accepting résumés for the new position until Friday, Oct. 25.

Harbor Hall

The board for the Palm Harbor Community Service Agency, which oversees the East Lake and Palm Harbor libraries as well as CSA Palm Harbor, met Sept. 18 for the first time at Harbor Hall, its latest operational acquisition.

Beginning this summer, CSA Palm Harbor began operating Harbor Hall along with the adjacent Rheba Sutton White Chapel, at 1190 Georgia Ave. Old Palm Harbor Main Street had been overseeing the historic wedding and event venues, but asked county staff – who then turned to CSA Palm Harbor, the area’s independent parks and recreation program – to take over.

CSA Palm Harbor Director Erica Lynford said she and her staff had been working to address issues like termites, wasps, bees and problems with the air conditioning. But the venue was securing more and more bookings, even accepting one for an event on Dec. 21, 2014.

“I’m very optimistic that these two facilities will function above that red line,” Lynford said.

CSA Palm Harbor is operating the venues under a temporary access and use license agreement with the county. A more permanent agreement is in the works, but Lynford said that she wanted to make sure the venues could support themselves. She was still calculating the time her hourly employees would commit to the venues, “so that we can kind of get an idea of what personnel costs are,” she said.

The organization also was working on re-securing the venue’s nontransferable liquor license in time for the weddings that had been promised that option.

“We can’t have brides coming in here that booked two years ago and not fulfill a promise we made,” Lynford said.

The PHCSA board agreed Oct. 16 to pay Lynford a bonus of $100 a week, given her new responsibilities over the venues, which weren’t part of her job description in her last review. The additional pay is retroactive from July 1 and will continue until her next annual review. The amount will be counted as part of the operating expenses of the venues.

Library hours

New hours - Starting Jan. 2

Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, closed
Open for a total of 57 hours per week.

Current hours

Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, closed
Open for a total of 47 hours per week.
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