COVINGTON - Beginning July 11, the Newton County Library will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
The library has been closed on Saturdays since March in an effort to save money. County funding for the library was slashed by 20 percent, or $226,700, to help make up for a countywide budget shortfall.
However, after several months of coming up with creative solutions to lower utility bills, the library can be opened again, Director Greg Heid said.
One discovery is that the air conditioning can be turned on just half an hour prior to opening, and turned off an hour before closing, and the building will remain sufficiently cool, he said.
"Those additional tweaks to heating and air saved enough money to cool the building for four hours on Saturday," Heid said.
Patrons may have to wait a little longer to check out on Saturdays because there will only be three staff members at the circulation desk rather than the usual five, he said.
"The staff have been real troopers in figuring our how we can do this. We're happy and excited to be open on Saturday mornings," he said.
Heid also noted that each county commissioner has called with ideas about how to save enough money to reopen on Saturdays.
"That's been great. I've worked in other library systems where (officials) have not been so hands on in coming up with ideas. They care about the public," he said.
Heid previously told the Citizen that the decision to close on Saturdays was based on a study that showed it is the least busy day of the week, with an average of 1,124 visitors. Tuesday is the busiest day of the week with an average of 1,815 visitors.
Being closed all weekend was the most effective way to reduce utility costs, Heid said.
Also, library vendors typically deliver on Mondays and Tuesdays, so the library must be opened on those days, he said.
As a result of the budget cuts, the library also cut its staff and reduced hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.