Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

February 22, 1994

Library of Congress to Close Sundays

Beginning Sunday, March 6, all reading rooms and the buildings of the Library of Congress will be closed on Sundays. The new hours for the Main, Microform, Law, Local History, Newspaper and Current Periodical, and Science reading rooms, as well as the Business Alcove, will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to Suzanne Thorin, chief of staff, "The Library of Congress will still keep open its reading rooms 64.5 hours on six days of the week, more than many major libraries. The British Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale, and the New York Public Library already close on Sundays. Ending the Library of Congress' four-hour Sunday sessions will deprive an average of 332 people of service each week; we regret that.

Beginning March 12 the Geography and Map Reading Room will no longer be open Saturdays. New hours for this reading room will be Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

However, on March 12, the Library will restore Saturday service in the Manuscript Reading Room from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. With advanced arrangements, this reading room will also serve selected materials from other collections requiring special security.

"Every part of the Library, not just the reading room, has been hit by the loss of 395 positions since 1992 and 573, or 12% of its workforce, since 1980," according to Ms. Thorin. "The loss affects service to Congress, our deployment of information technology, even our top-priority drive to reduce the backlog of uncataloged materials. Happily, our major exhibitions -- notably Vatican Library Treasures and the Dead Sea Scrolls -- have been privately funded, while attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors." The exhibition hours in the Library's Madison Building, the only building open to visitors not using the reading rooms, are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m. Selected smaller exhibition areas in the Madison Building are closed weekends and after 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Ms. Thorin said, "The Sunday closing is forced upon us by general budget-driven staff reductions. If the Library of Congress has to continue absorbing mandatory pay raises and price increases, it will soon have to make further cuts in both its existing services and its modest investments in the technological future in which this library has been urged to play a major role."

For additional information on visiting the Library of Congress call (202) 707-8000.

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PR 94-041
ISSN 0731-3527

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