By Samantha Johnson Special to the News on June 30, 2022.
The Medicine Hat Public Library will be closing for all Sundays and have reduced Monday evening hours from July 3 to September 4. According to the MHPL website, Sunday hours will return on Sept. 11.
Rebecca Harper, chair of the Medicine Hat Public Library Board, explained, “The City of Medicine Hat implemented a be-fit-financially approach where city departments all took a significant funding cut. MHPL, while not technically being part of the City of Medicine Hat but largely funded by them, took a funding cut as well in support of that measure.”
The budget of the library was cut by $140,000 each year between 2019 and 2021.
During COVID, it was less challenging for MHPL to meet the constraints of a smaller budget due to the library being closed, although they still managed to provide services to the community with curbside pickup and other modified programming. Now, with the library in a post-pandemic normal mode, they are looking at ways they can accommodate the budget cuts.
To decide what hours to reduce, MHPL examined when the library is busiest and when the quieter times are.
“The last two months have been a data gathering time to understand when a closure would least impact our community,” said Harper. “The times that were selected to reduce hours are in response to that data.”
Sundays are typically quieter days at the library during the summer, with many outdoors enjoying other city amenities. Evenings also tend to be quieter at the library, with Monday evening being where it made the most sense to reduce hours.
“We are very proud of the way the library has made adjustments as needed to the budget cuts and how it continues to provide great services and resources to the community,” stated Harper.