KFPL Pittsburgh branch getting used to extended hours

October 16, 2023

By Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for YGK News

Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) has officially announced the beginning of its new extended hours pilot at the Pittsburgh branch.

The pilot allows the smaller branch to remain open for hours beyond its regular operating schedule, with the extended, staffless hours being available to registered visitors in the library. 

While the new hours have been in place since the beginning of October, staff have been working through the pilot's early kinks and working to familiarize the public with the new system, as well as new hours for the branch.

With the extended hours also comes a change in schedule for staff being on site at the Pittsburgh branch, including an additional two staffed hours compared to the previous schedule. 

Laura Carter, Chief Librarian and CEO for KFPL said the hours that staff would be on site were revisited to align with programming and in response to public engagement, hoping to have staff available in person for what are typically the busiest times for the library.

"We heard from people that they wanted a mix of staffed hours at different times of the day," Carter said. 

"We didn't just do extended hours for when we used to be closed, we kind of had to adjust when staff are on site as well."

While staff previously wouldn't be in the building at all on Mondays and Fridays, there will be staff on site on Monday mornings with extended hours until 8, and on Fridays the staffless library will operate before staff come in for the afternoon and evening. 

All in all the implementation of this idea has held true to not reducing staff hours, and has actually added an additional two to the branch. 

During extended hours, a staff member at one of the larger branches will be responsible for monitoring the phone for any inquiries coming from the Pittsburgh branch, though the system still hasn't fully gotten off the ground yet as staff have been on hand for the transition and to help library goers get registered. 

To register to use the library while staff aren't in the building, patrons have to go to any KFPL branch to register with a piece of ID, and they will be given an access code as well of a rundown of certain safety considerations that typically wouldn't be top of mind during a library visit. 

Carter says that while there are still some concerns among staff members about the program and some members of the public just don't see it as a viable option, it provides an alternate way to provide more service to the community. 

She says the level of service from library staff won't be depreciating with this change, and some people who may not have understood what the changes entail have come around upon seeing it happen.

"We're not reducing staff, we're not reducing staffing levels, we're still here for you," Carter said.

"And most people come into the library and they treat each other and the facilities well, and it will be successful. I think part of it is the experience of just coming into the branch and seeing it in action."

While far too early to consider the possibility of expanding the program to other branches, Carter says it could potentially be a fit for other KFPL locations like Sharbot Lake and Sydenham.