City Blames Unions for Shorter Library Hours

Ward Room first reported yesterday that Chicago Library branches have closed on Mondays, a move in contrast to the mayor's compromise with aldermen to keep libraries open six days a week.

Upon hearing the news, students told us they're worried about where to study and others wondered whether local libraries were slowly but surely starting to die.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office on Monday pointed to union negotiation as the cause of reductions.

"Throughout the budget process, it was made clear by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members of his administration -- and cited by the media -- that the plan to reduce library hours to avoid library closings was contingent upon union agreement," Emanuel's office stated Friday.

The city says it has been working with AFSCME since the passage of the budget to land an agreement.

"But to date, the unions have not agreed, so the Chicago Public Library leadership announced that it would be forced to choose the alternative of closing libraries on Mondays entirely."

Still, the city says talks with AFSCME have been productive and the plan is still to keep libraries open six days a week. Emanuel's office says it's seeking cooperation from the union to ensure the regular hours.

"As we initially stated during the budget process, the plan to open libraries for half days on Monday and Friday requires union agreement."

Until then, reduced library hours are in place starting this week.

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