Posted tagged ‘Berkshires’

Legislative Breakfast

March 6, 2009

Today my library hosted one of a number of statewide legislative breakfasts, this one was very well attended both by concerned members of the library community and by members of the state’s Berkshires delegation.  It was informative, it was a wonderful experience, it was depressing as hell.  The state of the state is clearly awful.  

Two of my favorite people in the library community had to speak of our current hardships.  Janet Schraeder from C/WMars told the story of the Fitchburg library, one of my favorite cautionary tales.  A library that suffered an over 60% budget cut, and which was briefly reduced to serving as a pet shelter.  And Jan Resnick from my consortia, WMRLS, used the opportunity to announce their first (and hopefully [but unlikely] only) round of layoffs.

Afterwards the legislators themselves spoke, quite frankly of the state’s current economic climate.  These are not good times.  We’re looking at record deficits, some cuts have to be made and there is not any fat left to trim.  Libraries are likely going to be in a lot of pain in the next year, but everyone else will be too.


June 3, 2008

I spent today at a roundtable for technical services librarians, and as usual I got an awful lot out of the experience.  What always fascinates me at these events (we try to hold three a year) is how grounded the discussions tend to be, and how far that seems to be from the sort of discourse that comes out of the scholarly publications and the conferences.

Both have their place surely, but I’ve found it to be very striking how out of touch the professional outlets seem to be with the average public librarian.  Having just attended MLA, the overall impression was that libraries are these technological marvels full of staff members that are completely knowledgeable of the latest trends in the profession, and of course when it comes to public libraries at least that’s just not the case.  The story is always one of having to do more with less, and when that means less staff members and fewer hours on top of fewer resources there’s not much that can be done.

The bulk of today’s conversation focused on such ordinary subjects as mending tips and re balancing the acquisitions work flow in the wake of the aforesaid cuts.  A brief discussion of FRBR and RDA was on the agenda, but was removed due to a lack of time, but not before it was learned that half the room had never heard of either one.   I wasn’t exactly surprised to learn this; between their resource deficiencies and the general lack of awareness that the larger library organizations seem to have of small to medium-sized libraries.  This is especially problematic here in Massachusetts because of its tendency to exclude half of itself in all things (effectively the Pioneer Valley is part of Connecticut and the Berkshires are part of New York).

I find it very sad that the sorts of libraries who were represented at today’s meeting, really the backbone of the profession, are being cast aside from the profession.  I think we’re in huge trouble if something like FRBR, which is going to affect every library out there, comes to pass without half these libraries being aware of it, and I can see that happening.  Now I know I tend to be one for plowing ahead heedlessly with innovations, but we do need to take some time out and make sure that we haven’t lost anyone in the wake.