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What's with the library hours being so limited?

Original post made by Palo Altan, Palo Alto High School, on Feb 2, 2015

What's with this schedule? How are we supposed to remember it with so many different hours? And why do our libraries close so early (6PM) when we pay so much in taxes? What about students studying in the evening? How many librarians are necessary to keep open a library? This is a city of intellectuals so this is an outrage.

Web Link

Mountain View has more straightforward hours and stays open until 9:00: Web Link

Comments (28)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2015 at 11:36 am

I totally agree.

Also, why are so many of the books still in storage? Whenever I go to reserve a title, it seems half the time it's in storage.

And when is the old Main /Rinconada Library opening?

And, finally, why isn't there a drive-up book dropoff at the New Main library when parking is so limited?

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm

FYI, Cupertino City Library has a crowded, in-demand parking lot for library users, however they have four (4) parking slots with four-minute time limits for those just returning books into the return slot. I wish Mitchell Park had this amenity - very helpful to residents.
Good news is the old Main (now called Rinconada Library) opens soon and appears attractive, at least from the outside.

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 2, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Yes, and look at Cupertino Library hours, more stable and generous than Palo Alto:

10 - 9

10 - 9

10 - 9

10 - 9

10 - 6

10 - 6

Noon - 6

Posted by Not user-friendly
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Sundays are particularly not user friendly. Most of the year the sun is till high at 5 pm and people are working and doing homework but they make you leave before 5.
We always had longer hours until recent administrations.
Public service seems to be an outmoded idea.

No drop off box at Mitchell? How can that be?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:09 pm

I checked the PA Libraries web site and the old Main was supposed to open in January 2015 with the following schedule that's not exactly easy to remember.

Yes, it does look good from the outside and I hope the keep their drive-through book drop-off.

Web Link

Coming Early 2015!
Rinconada Library, formerly called Main Library, is scheduled to re-open January 2015 at 1213 Newell Rd, Palo Alto.

Once open, the hours will be: Mon: 12 noon - 8 pm; Tues & Wed: 10 am - 8 pm Thurs: 12 noon - 8 pm; Fri & Sat: 10 am - 6 pm; Sun: 1 pm - 5 pm

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Oh, my goodness, another library with erratic. limited hours. Thank you Online Name, for the info.

Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:37 pm

I would like to see the libraries open until 9 pm too.
Most of us work during the day.
Then we have dinner or need to shop for dinner.
I need the libraries to be open until at least 9 pm. (10pm would actually be better).

Our son will be graduating from high school, and has not been able to bike to a city library to use any services that we have been paid heavily for.
So much for developing good habits.

I bet the unemployed and homeless folks are also out of their habit of using our libraries to wash their dishes and clothing in restroom sinks.

Sheesh. Many wasted years @ $600/yr.

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2015 at 10:47 pm

After passing a $76 million dollar bond to build a big new library and renovate 3 of the 4 other libraries, I find rather strange that the city chooses to have such limited hours.

Reading the library bond issue, it turns out that there was $1 million in operational expenses per year that were not accounted for when the ballot was on the measure. Perhaps the limited hours at the 4 other branches is because the money is being used to fund this $1 million of additional operational expenses at the Mitchell Park library

Posted by 2 many libraries
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2015 at 4:48 pm

With so many libraries, they have to limit the hours since there is only so many $$ for staff. I also don't understand why the libraries close for an extra day when there is a Monday holiday.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

If we didn't have so many libraries, we could probably have them open for more realistic hours. When the library people tell us that there are so many hours open, they add the number of hours each library is open together and it makes it sound wonderful. The reality is that we have very limited hours.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 5, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Keep the libraries open stable and reasonable hours ... and get them all online.

I am so unhappy with the incompetence this City displays in practically its every decision and action.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 5, 2015 at 7:04 pm

Old Main -- aka Rinconada -- is now open and I plan on using it again as my main library because it's more convenient and cozier than the new Main. For example, you don't have to go all the way upstairs to check out the new books and to avoid the noisy kids.

Generally, the new entries are fine and the library looks pretty much like it did before.


1) They've taken away the convenient old drive-through book drop-off box here, too.

A helpful staffer explained that this was to encourage you to check your own media/books back in, thus automating the process and said there were no plans to return to the old drop-off boxes but encourages us to send feedback to the library director.

It used to be SO convenient to drop off the books when running errands. Now people with kids or pets have to worry about whether to take them with you when you trek to the entrances to drop off media or to risk leaving them alone.

2) They've gotten rid of the used paperback book rack that used to be filled with library donations and was perfect for grabbing airplane reading. Too bad. They might add it back in if enough people want it.

3) There was no obvious room for donations like in the old Main.

4) The front of the old main entrance parking lot is dominated by handicapped and hybrid spots but not so aggressively as New Main.

5) There seemed to be more Internet Access terminals than Card Catalog terminals.

6) They've heard lots of complaints about the hours.

7) If there are bike racks, I didn't notice them near the old front entrance.

Other than the spiffed up entries, the redecorated bathrooms same size) and the glass-enclosed Teen room, I'm not sure what's different.

But I'm SO glad that it's done! And on time, too.

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2015 at 12:17 am

Could they are curtailing hours at the smaller branch libraries to force residents to Mitchel Park, in order to justify the expense, and over-sized sized building, with attendance numbers?

Posted by Not user friendly
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2015 at 12:37 am

Are you saying there's no drop-off box at Main anymore????
That's outrageous. And hard to understand.
I wonder.....
Maybe they are just trying to inflate the number of visitors because now you have to enter the building to return an item. That would raise the number of visits by something like a third, or even more.
Then they can show how successful the results of the expensive remodel, the number of visitors has increased!
What a scam.

Posted by Tin foil hat
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:55 am

"Could they are curtailing hours at the smaller branch libraries to force residents to Mitchel Park, in order to justify the expense, and over-sized sized building, with attendance numbers?"

The hours at the smaller branch libraries were more limited in the past as well. Thanks for the conspiracy theory, though.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

Not user friendly, I am saying that the convenient drop-off boxes are gone at both the New Main and Old Main libraries. Gone gone gone.

They're probably gone at the Downtown Library, too, but I don't know that for sure.

Let's all write to the library director and let her know how inconvenient that is. [email protected]

Here's all the contact numbers.
Web Link

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 6, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Online name: They are Rinconada and Mitchell, not Old Main, New Main. There were times where the drop boxes were taped off. Perhaps books have gotten ruined from vandals dropping in other things. Plus, someone mentioned that the books are checked in electronically when books are returned to the building. The drop boxes require an employee to empty them and check them in.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Yes, they're Rinconada and Mitchell Park.

And I was the one who quoted the helpful employee at Rinconada explaining they had discontinued the drop-off boxes due to automatic check in. He also said that a lot of people had complained and he urged people to contact the library director, which I've done.

Still, the drop-off boxes were very convenient, especially since parking is already a problem at the new Mitchell Park Library and will be once people know Rinconada is open.

Posted by Not user friendly
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

The removal of the Drop-off boxes is the last straw for me. So it is inconvenient for a staff person to wheel the books in, against the inconvenience for scores of library users who have to park and go into the building just to return something. Interesting trade-off.

The effect on the inflation of the statistics of people entering the buildings cannot be ignored. That's the statistic they use to show how popular the libraries have become.

The ridiculous complexity of open hours is fixable if they wanted to. Volunteers presumably are said to be plentiful. BTW Menlo Park is open till 9 on Mon-Tues-Wed.
Menlo Park Library hours
Monday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Tuesday Noon to 9:00 pm
Wednesday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Closing the libraries an extra day whenever a holiday falls near a weekend is ridiculous.

No sound barrier between noisy children's area and adult area is bad for adults. Staff refuses to ask children to keep the noise down. Understandable they don't want to tangle with parents who think shouting is normal behavior, but a physical sound barrier is easy to install.

Study rooms are sometimes locked. And you cant reserve a room outside of regular open hours.
Collections are seriously reduced or in storage.
We used to have 5 branches and longer hours. Something has gone very wrong.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I returned into the new Mitchell Park library with my books not realizing that what looked like an ATM outside was the drop off place for books. I set off alarms and made a lot of noise while looking completely baffled and a librarian appeared from nowhere to show me how to do it outside. I must have been very dumb because when I next tried to use it, I got error messages. Instead of the check in method, I decided to use the book drop without checking them back in, I will leave that for a paid librarian with more time than I have to mess around.

I have done the tour of the library on my first visit, I now of course don't need any of the shelves or fancy gadgets since I put my books on hold at home and then just go into the library for the hold shelf and check out my books.

It takes me about 2 minutes to return my books, go into the library, find my books on the hold shelf, check them out and return to my car. We do not need a huge new library, just a book drop, hold shelf and check out machines. We need a few 5 minute only parking spots so that I can park and be on my errand run without too much hassle. I have told the library this.

Like many people I know, a library stop is one of many errands on my way home, not a family outing. We need to make it more convenient for in and out users who I guess are the great majority.

Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Tin foil hat,

A little history... the city has been trying to shut down the smaller branch libraries for years. They have only been kept open through the valiant efforts of local residents, their neighborhood associations.

Posted by J
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:36 am

I would love to see an extension of library hours in Palo Alto. I especially would like to see the College Terrace branch open more than 4 days and open past 6pm.

Posted by Start Up Idea
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:53 am

Resident, it seems to be "all about you". But if you never bother to browse or enjoy the actual library, it seems that you could use a new delivery/pickup service to just bring books to you and take them back to the library. It could be a "free" app that gets paid by advertisements that play while you schedule the service.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Rinconada Library has been open for about a week now and all its parking lots are totally full.

I went to return my books before running my other errands. I circled the main entrance lots where the drop-off box used to be. No spots. I tried the other side between the Art Center and the library. No spots.

Finally after going down one aisle only to be caught at a dead end, a car backed out next in the lot between the Art Center and library and I had a SPOT!

Since there's no curb-cut-out or drop-off lane to park for a few minutes and run in, I walked down the spiffy new walkway to the spiffy new entrance way only to find there are NO return slots or automatic check-in boxes on that SIDE of the library!

If the library's closed you have to walk all the way around the building, cutting across the landscaping to get to the other door.

There used to be drop-off slots on BOTH sides of the library plus the drive-through box. During holidays, they'd even cleverly rigged up a conveyor belt for all the returns which covered a good part of the floors ob both sides.

Don't our planners/designers ever think of convenience or realize how people actually use the facilities?

We spent a fortune on the new entrance only to have it become glitzy empty space where they could have fit in 10 drop-off slots!

Maybe we need to hire a Chief Usability Officer to review these plans before we spend tens of millions of dollars?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Start up Idea????

How could I have missed your arrogant response?

All about me??? I think you should read the many other posts in the thread that support the fact that the library is not user friendly. Some people may have the time and the desire to spend a long period of time at the library, enjoying the facilities and perusing the shelves.

Others, are using the library effectively as part of our busy lifestyle and no longer have the need for spending time doing the unnecessary perusal of shelves and enjoyment of facilities (although it is nice to have a clean restroom if that need arises while doing an errand run on my way home).

We all use the library how it suits us and many people want to be in and out as quickly as possible. If you feel the need for a home delivery library, perhaps you could ask Amazon to oblige you.

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Agree that parking is awful at Rinconada and this should result in having a drop box. I usually return my books to the Childrens Library because it's a mere 30 ft. walk from the street to the front doors/drop slot.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2015 at 5:55 pm

I just don't understand the mindset at work here.

Whatever possessed the city to approve a design without keeping book return slots on both sides of the building? They had to make a conscious decision to remove the one near the Art Center when they were designing that new long empty entry.

When I was looking for the hold shelves for the first time, the library aide literally said, "Oh, it's all the way over there. We wanted you to appreciate the whole building."

Is everything all about making design statements while ignoring usability?

Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2015 at 3:10 am

Used the (new) Old Main Library. Ooooo! What a nice and big list of donors' names (with a hierarchy of different font sizes!) on the south side where there used to be a book drop. I usually return books after hours.... so.... until we can't return books to the "wrong" branch to ease the workload on the many paid staffers who don't welcome volunteer workers.... so we can have convient openign hours and decent book drops.... I'll be droping my books off at Children's after hours.

Also used the new Mtchell Library. Nice big signs inside thanking Ms. Becky Morgan.... but not the bond voters that I could see.

Both of these new and improved branches are cold, not user friendly. Big grand entraces of useless space. Look-at-me star-chitcture inside and out. Missing the old large couches and deep chairs which have been removed. Seats are tiny like airline seats!

What was good? The new teen rooms seem well-used. Carpets are clean. At least one librarian of 5 I encountered was anything close to service oriented.

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