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County Libraries Open While Santa Clara Libraries Close

The same day the Santa Clara County Library system re-opened libraries seven days a week, the City of Santa Clara closed its branch libraries and severely reduced hours at the City’s Central Park Library.

The City closed the Northside and Mission branch libraries, cut Central Park Library hours to 24 per week, and eliminated Sunday hours. As of now, the Central Park Library is open Wed. 3-7 and 10-2 on other days.

Central Park Library service resumed, according to the City, on Feb. 7.

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“Due to COVID-related absences, the library doesn’t have the staff to maintain a safe environment,” said Santa Clara Director of Communications Lon Peterson. “Over the past month, the library has experienced cascading outbreaks throughout the system. Approximately 25 percent of the staff assigned to the main branch were affected last week.”

However, what the City calls “resuming service” service is the same 24 hours that were called a shutdown last month. And residents are unhappy about it.

“I was planning to go there today and return a book but four hours a day…” a reader told The Weekly.

“It’s not good, plus, they have three libraries for heaven’s sake,” the reader continued. “I don’t know why this City is so cheap. Something seems very wrong here. It doesn’t seem like they care very much for their residents. A library should be a primary focus for the community and their residents.”

“It just seems to be getting worse…I find it wrong,” he concluded. “They keep raising rates and they can’t even keep a library open, at least one with regular hours.”

Omicron hasn’t shuttered other libraries in the county.

Except for Palo Alto, these libraries continue to operate at an average of 55 hours per week — ranging from 43 (San José) to 62 (Los Altos, Milpitas and Saratoga) — and seven days a week.

Even Palo Alto, which closed three of its five branches, has kept the remaining libraries, collectively, open six days a week for a total of 58 hours per week.

The fact that only Santa Clara’s library has been so adversely affected raises a question for some people.

“We need to look at if our staff impacts from COVID versus other cities,” said Council Member Raj Chahal, a former Library Trustee. “If it is not higher, then we should be opening our libraries.”

Libraries By the Numbers

Here’s how Santa Clara’s library service stacks up against other libraries in the count.

Mountain View is open Mon.-Sat. 10-6 and Sun. 1-5, adding up to 52 hours/week.

Sunnyvale recently expanded library hours and is open Mon.-Thu. 10-9, Fri.-Sat. 10-6 and Sun. 1-6 for 55 total hours/week.

San José increased its hours but isn’t open Sundays. Branches are open Mon. and Fri. 1-6; Tue., Thu. and Sat. 10-6; and Wed. 10-7 for 43 total hours/week. The King Main Library is open Mon.-Thu. 10-8 and Sat. 10-6 for 56 total hours/week.

Palo Alto announced a new library services reduction on Jan. 18 because of the Omicron surge. The city closed three of five branches and reduced hours at the remaining libraries. Rinconada library is open Wed.-Sat. 12-6; Mitchell Park is open Tue.-Thu. 11-8 and Fri. and Sat. 12-6 for 24 and 39 total hours/week respectively.

The Santa Clara County Library system is open for full service on its regular schedule, mostly seven days a week, generally Mon.-Thu. 10-9 and 10-7 other days.

The County system includes:

  • Cupertino: Mon.-Fri. 10-9, Sat. and Sun. from 10-6:30 for 44.5 total hours/week.
  • Campbell: Mon.-Thu. 10-9, Fri. and Sat. 10-6 for 60 total hours/week.
  • Los Altos and Milpitas: Mon.-Thu. 10-9, Fri.-Sun. 10-7 for 62 total hours/week.
  • Saratoga: Mon. and Tue. 10-9, Wed.-Sun. 10-6 for 62 total hours/week.
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