How many public libraries have Sunday hours? You might think that's an easy question to answer, but it's a bit complicated and the results are ultimately inconclusive. Although both the Public Libraries in the United States Survey from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Public Library Data Service statistics included in PLAmetrics report the number of service hours, neither indicates which days of the week those represent.
But what if you want to know, as one reporter did a few months back, whether or not your local library reinstating its Sunday hours is newsworthy? Or if your board wants to know that having to reduce service hours by closing Sundays is an extreme measure, as another inquirer did?
In both cases, I was able to use tools provided with the data to identify a group of similarly sized libraries in order to begin an analysis. Then using the list of libraries in that comparison group, I used the individual library websites to determine their specific hours of service. In other words, I did a simple benchmarking process--comparing and measuring one library against a group of others on a specific dimension.
For decision making, of course, what others are doing is not the sole criterion. As suggested by the planning process put forth in the "Planning for Results" series from the Public Library Association, a division of ALA, you must consider many characteristics of the community that supports your library and the service mix for your community. Is the library heavily used by students, who would need the Sunday hours? Is your clientele largely business people at the downtown facility, but families at the outlying branch? Would it make sense to do as some of the larger systems I looked at do and have only some branches open on Sunday? Would the library need to be closed another day to keep personnel costs down?
Most articles on Sunday hours, at least in English, are news items about reducing or restoring hours. These selected article have additional discussion.
Buller, Grace. "Public Library Service on Sunday: a Report." Ontario Library Review, June 1975, p. 108-111.
Hennessy, Frank. "A Defense of Opening the Public Library on Sunday." Library Journal, May 1, 1985, p. 25-26.
Holt, Glen E. "Fitting Library Services Into the Lives of the Poor." The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances, v. 19, no. 4, (2006) p.179 - 186.
Quinn, J., and M. Rogers. "Florida's Orange County Library Conducts Poll of 57 Systems." Library Journal, 116, no. 8 (May 1991): 16
Mediavilla, Cindy. "Why Library Homework Centers Extend Society's Safety Net." American Libraries 32, no. 11 (2001): 40-42.
Strauss, Valerie. "Closing Libraries on Sunday is a Scandal." Washington Post, Oct. 2, 2011.