Pacific Beach Library’s Sunday hours restored, starting this weekend
Sunday hours eliminated three years ago; made possible now due to recent new hires
A recent hiring spree will allow the long-awaited return of Sunday hours in Pacific Beach and many other San Diego library branches this weekend, the final step toward fully restoring city library hours to pre-pandemic levels after three years of scaled-back service.
The Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library at 4275 Cass Street will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. each Sunday.
City library hours also won’t face any possible cuts in the proposed budget Mayor Todd Gloria is scheduled to unveil Friday for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, head librarian Misty Jones said this week.
Library hours have been on the chopping block several times in recent years, including Gloria’s proposal two years ago to cut them by 23 percent citywide by eliminating all Sunday and Monday service.
Starting this Sunday, there will be four hours of service at 14 of the city’s 36 branches — the same number of hours and branches that had Sunday service before the pandemic.
The 14 branches are downtown, Valencia Park, Logan Heights, City Heights, Mira Mesa, Otay Mesa, Pacific Beach, Mission Valley, Carmel Valley, La Jolla, Serra Mesa, Point Loma, Rancho Bernardo and North University.
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Restoring Sunday hours became possible when Jones was able to quickly fill 44 entry-level library assistant jobs with some of the 209 people who submitted applications at the city’s first career fair March 22 in Balboa Park.
The career fair — during which the city got 2,300 total job applications and conducted more than 1,300 interviews — helped reduce the library’s vacancy rate from nearly 25 percent to less than 12 percent, Jones said.
The remaining 84 vacant positions among the library’s 726 total jobs include just 38 that deal directly with the public. Most of those are unfilled part-time positions in the city’s Do Your Homework @ the Library program, Jones said.
During the pandemic, Jones and Gloria decided to use library closures as an opportunity to make a significant long-term change in staffing, replacing the hourly, part-time positions with jobs that have benefits.
City’s 36-branch system faced 275 vacancies spurred by pandemic, shifted hourly workers to positions with benefits
The goal was reducing turnover, which had been roughly 30 percent among hourly employees before the pandemic.
But the process didn’t go smoothly. Jones had hoped to restore Sunday service last spring, but efforts to fill vacancies were much more complex and time-consuming than anticipated — until the career fair.
San Diego was also relatively slow to reopen its branches on days other than Sundays, with four branches remaining fully or partially closed until last year and Ocean Beach not fully re-opening until this winter.
Full hours were restored at the Serra Mesa branch in March 2022, the North Clairemont library in April 2022 and the Clairemont and Mountain View branches last July.
Regular hours for a branch are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays. A new pilot program at the College-Rolando branch is also keeping that location open later, unstaffed, for cardholders several nights per week.
Many patrons will soon have access to the College-Rolando branch later on weekday evenings, officials say. But that access will require a library card.
Jones said this week that it’s exciting to have library hours finally restored.
“This is our last step to get back to pre-pandemic levels,” she said. “We want to thank all of our patrons for their cooperation and patience.”
In addition to the new hires, the career fair also gave Jones a long list of quality candidates when openings arise.
“We’ve got lots of great candidates we can use to backfill,” she said.
Patrick Stewart, chief executive of the San Diego Library Foundation, praised this week the return of Sunday hours and the mayor’s decision not to propose any hours cuts in his budget.
“The library foundation is pleased that the mayor continues to recognize the importance of our libraries,” Stewart said. “Access to library resources are a lifeline for many San Diegans.”