In a move likely to calm some of the anxiety among library advocates about new County Mayor Tim Burchett, the county announced it is restoring Knox County library hours and staffing to 2008 levels. Fourteen full- and part-time position that had been budgeted but frozen are now going to be filled, and the system's 18 branches will add a collective total of 177.5 hours of service per week. They are currently open 710 hours a week. And all of this is being done within the existing budget.
Library spokeswoman Mary Pom Claiborne says that in addition to the unfrozen positions, some responsibilities are being shifted around internally to staff the extra hours. At the main Lawson-McGhee library, Claiborne says there will be an extra 12 hours of service a week, including a Saturday morning opening time of 10 a.m. (Current Saturday hours are 1-5 p.m.) Other large branches like those at Cedar Bluff, Powell, Farragut, and Fountain City will add 10-11 hours each, and smaller branches will add four to eight hours. No word yet on specifics.