Mesa will shut 2 of 3 libraries on Sundays

Art Thomason The Arizona Republic Mar. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

MESA - The city will close its two library branches on Sundays, a move expected to stir the biggest public reaction yet to the city's fiscal austerity decisions.

"When you start hitting people with the loss of weekend hours, it makes it difficult for them to access services," said Molly Rice, president of Friends of the Mesa Library. "I'm sorry it's come to this, and I'm sorry for the citizens of Mesa, who are the big losers."

Rice said she was hoping that city officials could find alternative budget cuts until voters decide May 16 whether to approve a primary property tax to provide an additional revenue stream.

The Sunday closings of the Dobson and Red Mountain library branches, which begin April 3, are among 105 budget reductions listed by the city earlier this month. The main library remains open Sundays.

To reach up to $25 million in cuts in the next two months, more than 260 positions are up for possible elimination, and museums, public safety and arts classes could be halted.

The city's libraries were hit with a $500,000 budget cut and the loss of 42 staff positions over the past year while book circulation has continued to climb. Also gone are popular children's events such as the Halloween party, Teddy Bear Picnic and most adult programs.

Jeffrey Emile, 50, a trim carpenter, said he believes a lot of businesses should be closed Sundays.

"But not the library," he said. "It's a sanctuary."

A version of this story may have appeared in your community Republic.

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