On a split vote, the Richland County commissioners have approved another staff member for the Sidney-Richland County Public Library.
Because of a reduced staff, the library started being closed on Mondays as well as Sundays beginning in October. Last month, library board members expressed to commissioners the need for additional employees.
“There are different things that have gone on that we feel are being detrimental to the library,” library board chair Robin Hernandez said to commissioners on Monday.
She added that the stress of being short-handed has impacted employees’ health and has resulted in not being able to monitor everything in the building including children on computers.
Hernandez said area residents are disappointed that the library is now only open five days a week.
“Libraries are, at least, open Monday through Saturday when they are our size,” Hernandez said. “I think that’s realistic.”
Libraries in Glendive and Miles City are each open six days a week, library officials said.
According to figures from the library board, the library had 4,007 visits in August, 4,743 visits in September, 5,040 visits in October and 3,469 visits in November.
Library director Kelly Reisig said programming for adults and projects geared for senior citizens have been impacted because of the reduced staffing in Sidney.
Commissioner Shane Gorder asked if two part-time employees could be a solution, but library officials said that format would create some challenges especially if other staff members are ill on a particular day.
Gorder said because the county is making a commitment with plans to expand the library, he finds an adequate staff is necessary. Those proposed improvements include an elevator so the library’s lower level can be utilized.
Gorder noted, “It doesn’t make sense if we are pushing for library expansion and we don’t have the staff. It doesn’t fit the shoe quite right to me.”
Commissioner Loren Young added that it doesn’t make sense to remodel the building and not have the proper amount of staff members. “There appears to be a need for more help,” Young said.
Gorder’s motion to hire a full-time employee and a part-time employee died from lack of a second. Young then made the motion to hire a full-time employee. The motion was seconded by Gorder and passed by a 2-1 margin with Commissioner Duane Mitchell voting against.
The library will keep its same hours for now. There’s a possibility that a part-time employee might also be added once the construction project begins.