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Council mulls Sunday hours for Flower Memorial Library

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City Council members Joseph M. Butler Jr. and Teresa R. Macaluso have proposed establishing a pilot program that would allow the Flower Memorial Library to be open Sundays.

In recent years, the Watertown City Council has been trying to figure out how to get the city-owned library open seven days a week, despite the objection of the city employees’ union to allowing its members to work Sundays.

The two council members would like to see the pilot program begin this fall and last long enough to figure out whether there is enough patron demand before committing to it permanently. Library Trustee Stephen W. Gebo said the library board would be interested in establishing such a pilot program.

But it still would take getting library staff to agree to work Sundays, Ms. Macaluso said, adding that other details still must be worked out for what the program would entail.

“They need to work on it and come back to us,” Ms. Macaluso said Tuesday.

Three library employees “are willing to volunteer” to work Sundays as long as they are paid overtime and it doesn’t become a permanent shift for them, Mr. Gebo said.

Under the plan, the library would be open four or five hours on Sundays. As a part of a previous extension plan, the library has added Wednesday night hours and will be open Saturdays this summer.

The library’s board of directors recently requested $125,000 in additional city funding to open Sundays and provide security at the Washington Street facility.

In a recent memo, board President Constance A. Holberg wrote the library still needs to hire two clerical workers at a cost of nearly $88,000 to allow the library to be open Sundays. The library board also wanted to add as much as $37,000 in city funding for contracted part-time security.

The trustees asked for the funding for both items in the library’s annual budget requests to the city. The City Council has not decided on the additional funding.

Library officials have cited occasional vandalism, minor criminal incidents and erratic patron behavior as the need for hiring a private firm to provide security four or five hours a day. It would add to the security cameras already in the building and a city police officer who walks through the building daily.

Council members also suggested meeting with Police Chief Joseph J. Goss to see if he has any ideas to improve security.

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