Effective Jan. 18, the Royal Oak Public Library’s new hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays during the school year.

Effective Jan. 18, the Royal Oak Public Library’s new hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays during the school year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Royal Oak library shifts hours based on community use

Pandemic reduces patronage, but online transactions up

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 25, 2022

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ROYAL OAK — Effective Jan. 18, the Royal Oak Public Library’s new hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays during the school year.

The shift aligns with trends in foot traffic observed by library staff, as well as input from a community survey that the library circulated to gain more insight into the decision.

The library’s statistics showed that its busiest time was when it formerly opened at 10 a.m. and its slowest hour was between 8 and 9 p.m. Of those surveyed, 88.4% of online responses and 71.4% of written responses favored the new hours.

Sandy Irwin, the new director of the library who began the job Sept. 13, presented the library’s annual report, which was based on the city’s financial audit, during the Jan. 10 Royal Oak City Commission meeting.

“We can really call this last year of 2020 to 2021 a year in transition,” Irwin said. “We went from being closed with only curbside services and electronic services to opening up in May of 2021.”

The library completed a partial indoor remodel during the closure, in which it installed new carpet and flooring and renovated the children’s area.

“We did develop a grant-funded makerspace, which we haven’t been able to use to its fullest extent because of COVID. We’ve done a lot of robust online programming, and our Friends of the Library moved from having no sales to having sidewalk sales, and they had their first indoor sale this past fall,” Irwin said.

She added that the library had added a few new board members and that, thanks to a generous donation, the library’s Daily Tribune microfilm was digitized and made available to library cardholders.

Library cards are available to anyone who lives or works in the city. Irwin added that the library also recently began using radio frequency identification cards to help with the checking in and out of materials.

Patrons can take and leave donated seeds as part of a seed library inside the building, and the library recently started a vinyl collection. Thanks to a grant secured by Julie Lyons Bricker, the city’s grants coordinator and energy and sustainability manager, the library also recently converted to LED lighting.

“We developed a ‘library of things,’” Irwin said. “There’s a lot of things you can check out that maybe you’re considering buying for yourself, but you don’t really know and you want to test it out, or you just want to check something out that is a little bit different.”

Given the shift to virtual during the pandemic, the library also made Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots available for checkout for patrons who may not have such technology at home.

Despite the drop off in physical patronage, Irwin said the library’s database use increased by 54% and the library saw a 20% increase in the use of its electronic materials, such as e-books, audiobooks, downloadable movies and a variety of other items.

“We’ve done a lot of participation in the city’s events, including Sights and Sounds, the centennial celebration and we’ll be working (with the Aging in Place Task Force),” Irwin said. “We’ve created a lot of new connections with the Royal Oak public schools, and our teen librarians are working with the high school to help bring materials there.”

Lastly, Irwin said the canopy and lighted handrail near the library’s new terrace — all components of Centennial Commons, the new downtown park — are scheduled to be installed by February.

“It’s been a tough year for everybody, and you guys still made a shining example of how to pull through, step up to the challenge and do better,” Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said. “We’re grateful for that as a community.”

During the public comment portion of the Jan. 10 meeting, Royal Oak resident Janice Wagman said she recalled being a student when the library opened.

“What has happened now is this is not your grandmother’s library; this is phenomenal — all that they do and all that they offer, and it being so much a part of the community,” Wagman said. “I look forward to what they plan on doing for the Royal Oak Aging in Place Task Force and integrating with that.”

The Royal Oak Public Library is located at 222 E. 11 Mile Road, east of Main Street.

For more information, call the library at (248) 246-3700 or visit ropl.org.

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