By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
---- — The Russiaville branch of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library will be closed on Wednesdays starting the first week of December because of a decline in use.
The library board voted Monday to accept the recommendation of Faith Brautigam, director of the library system.
Brautigam said the decision to reduce by one day the Russiaville branch hours was made after studying usage of the facility.
She said though closing one day a week equals 20 to 24 staff hours, staff hours won’t be reduced. Brautigam said she plans to re-purpose 28 hours per week of Russiaville staff time to assist at the South Branch reference desk, support the library’s purchasing agent and to support the community engagement assistant.
Brautigam said the study found the library was least used on Wednesdays.
Board member Gil Hendrickson said the library will want feedback from local residents about the change in hours.
Starting Dec. 2, the Russiaville branch will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday during the school year.
The monthly statistical report provided to board members showed a 7 percent reduction in visits to the library in the month of August and a decline of 21 percent in circulation. Through August, circulation at the branch was down 10 percent, but the number of visitors increased by 6 percent.
Circulation figures for the Main library showed a 9-percent decline this year and an 8-percent decline at the South Branch. Visitation for the Main and South branches both showed a 3 percent decrease in 2013.
In other business, the board voted to change the health insurance program for retirees.
Mary Baker, vice president of the library board, said the intention is to phase out insurance for retirees.
The library plans to end its contribution to retiree insurance starting Jan. 1, 2015. Starting in November, the employee cost will increase from 25 percent to 75 percent by the end of 2014.
Medical insurance coverage for the retired employee will end when the employee becomes eligible for Medicare.
Baker said the change impacts very few library employees.
The change doesn’t affect those employees who have already retired, she said.