There are many factors to consider with holiday closures, and some people will be irritated, no matter what you do. Here are some considerations for libraries determining their holiday policies and schedules:
- Be honest - is the holiday closure more for staff or public convenience? Yes, hard-working, underpaid library employees deserve their holidays, but flexible personal days instead of frequent holiday closings can work to everybody's benefit.
- Closing on school holidays deprives students and families the chance to visit for homework or fun. Many libraries that stay open on President's Day find use is above typical Monday averages.
- Religious holidays are especially challenging. Atheists and religious believers alike are subject to offense whether you open or close, and there are numerous holidays to consider. In this time of changing and varied spiritual beliefs, libraries are wise to avoid closing on major religious holidays, and should provide staff options for time off on days important to their traditions. Also try to avoid scheduling major events on religious holidays that are important to the community.
- Christmas is the exception: it has become a secular and federal holiday, and, while still subject to criticism, it is easier to defend because government offices are also closed.
- Although a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day remains sensitive in some communities. Opening provides opportunities for family visits and volunteers active in the Day of Service, while offending others who consider opening a breach of respect. Forestall the issue by reaching out to community leaders to explore opinions and expectations.
- Holiday closures are a great opportunity to promote 24/7 e-resources.
- Libraries with union employees will likely have less flexibility for holidays, and should consult with union leaders on the impact of closing on selected days.
- Coordinating closures with nearby libraries works to improve patron options.
Whatever your library decides, be sure to let your customers know that holiday closures are part of a balanced and carefully crafted budget. It's hard to argue against that.
What advice do you have regarding holiday closures?