The Dorchester County Public Library released the following statement on Nov. 27.
Notice regarding our upcoming hours changes, going into effect on Monday, Dec. 4:
It has come to our attention that there are some misunderstandings regarding our temporary change in hours through the upcoming winter months. We sympathize and are just as frustrated that things have reached this point. Please know that all other currently possible options have been carefully considered and/or exhausted before the Library Board voted for these changes. Here are some things to note:
One misunderstanding is that the funds used to re-grade/re-pave the Cambridge Library parking lot, for example, should have been used for staffing issues instead. To clarify, this project was done to help reduce/prevent the flooding that we continue to experience from surrounding storm drains - which has previously caused Library closures and extensive damages. (For reference, we were on WBOC about this issue in August 2023). These funds come from our capital project operations budget, designated solely for building/property project needs, and cannot be used for staffing issues or any other purposes.
The Cambridge Library building is 50 years old as of 2023, now one of the oldest library buildings on the Eastern Shore, and is actually in need of millions of dollars in renovations and repairs - which we have only been able to remedy in small chunks, such as with the parking lot re-grading.
Grants are also often utilized for larger projects whenever possible, but again, cannot be used as a permanent solution for ongoing staffing issues. Out of an organization with 18 total positions between our 2 library branches, we have experienced a 110% staff turnover rate since 2020, which hits our small staff even harder. Currently, only a handful of staff between both library branches have been here longer than 2 years - which is also about the length of time to fully train a new staff member for the public library field. Maryland requires a bachelor’s degree for library associate positions and up, and we have long been unable to compete with salaries in comparable positions and fields elsewhere. Vocalizing your support to local and state government entities for the library and its funding could go a long way in helping remedy this long-standing issue.
Please keep in mind that we are our own non-profit 501c3, not part of the county government. We are doing the best we can with reduced staff, funding, safety, and shorter daylight hours, combined. Therefore, we are not able to hire a security guard or additional staff at this time.
If you have any questions, please message the Library directly through our social media accounts or call 410-228-733 to speak with the Director, Crystal Henningsen, or Assistant Director, Julie Kennedy, and we would be happy to address your concerns. We are working towards other solutions and the hours will be re-evaluated by the Library Board come Spring. We appreciate your patience and understanding through this time.
Hours changes starting Dec. 4:
Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m-5 p.m.
Monday - Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday – 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday/Saturday - Closed