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Newmarket library eyes Monday openings

Management to explore option, with library lagging behind neighbouring libraries in opening hours
Councillor Kelly Broome at the Newmarket Public Library board meeting May 15.

The Newmarket Public Library is exploring the feasibility of opening on Mondays.

The town’s library closes on that day, contributing to it having the lowest number of opening hours compared to any of its neighbours. CEO Tracy Munusami told board members May 15 that management would begin conversations about starting a pilot program to open Mondays, speaking with staff and eventually, looking at an operational budget request.

Board member and Newmarket Councillor Victor Woodhouse said it is a sensible move.

“As a growing community, we’re looking to extend the services,” he said. “To me, that really makes logical sense.”

The Newmarket Public Library is currently open for 56 hours per week. In comparison, Aurora’s library is open on Monday and is open for a total of 62 hours per week. Similarly, both Whitchurch-Stouffville and Bradford West Gwillimbury have Monday openings and are open 63 and 63.5 hours per week, respectively.

Georgina and East Gwillimbury do not have Monday hours, but they each have three library locations, giving them 153 and 166 hours open, respectively.

”I really don’t want to be behind,” Woodhouse said. “We could do it.” 

Board member and Councillor Kelly Broome said the Newmarket library does have unique initiatives, like pop-ups and Storywalks that other library systems do not have that add to their services.

But Broome said she liked the approach proposed by management to start discussions and it is something that has been overhanging from previous years.

“Having an open dialogue is perfect,” she said. 

The library’s last hours expansion was in 2015 when it extended to open Sunday year around. Munusami’s report said the idea of Monday opening has been examined since 2017, but there are concerns among staff regarding keeping a work-life balance.

Management is suggesting a pilot program and to gradually assess community needs and staff concerns, phasing in any changes. Management said they would work with staff to develop a pilot phase to gather data, and then make an approach to the board for full-day implementation.

Board member Beth Stevenson said students experience disappointment not being able to access the library on Mondays.

She also said that there could be benefits for some staff, preferring to work on Monday over weekends.

Munusami’s report said the benefits of expanded opening hours could be facility optimization, student support, resource accessibility and community engagement.

“Opening on Mondays would allow the library to offer 22 per cent more hours of operation to the residents of Newmarket and an opportunity to provide an extra day of programming and community building,” Munusami said.