Buffalo libraries extend hours to help increase web access

Sep 14, 2020

Buffalo school students are getting a break from the public library system: more open hours after school closing time.

In the world of kids taking class on computer screens, there is a real penalty for those who don't have web access at home. The Buffalo Public Schools district has been going through a variety of electronic measures to give more service to more kids, trying to eliminate the problem of kids who just gave up in the spring when they had no cyber-access to their classes.

Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said there were kids hanging around outside closed libraries to use WiFi spillover into the parking lots.

"We actually did have students standing and sitting outside our libraries to have that free, high-speed internet access throughout the closure period," she said. "So, us being open and encouraging kids to come in, that's something we are very heavily focused on."

The system also has to deal with having fewer computers available at any one time because of social distancing rules on units next to each other. Jakubowski said city libraries will be open 46 more hours than they were last week to make sure there is access.

"Libraries to which I have direct administrative oversight of and those are the Buffalo libraries. Our Central Library will be expanding hours, including being open 'til 7 p.m. four nights a week. We will be open, of course, Fridays and Saturdays," she said.

The Merriweather Library, as an example, is now open six days a week and until 6 p.m. Monday, Friday and Saturday and until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.