Posted tagged ‘budget cuts’

Going Public

August 31, 2009

I Twittered this earlier, but it certainly bares repeating.  The Berkshire Eagle has finally decided to cover our budget cuts, and our hours reduction in particular.  Although as a commenter points out, the article never mentions what that reduction is (a gold star to the commenter who guessed we’ll be closing at 5, albeit only on Mondays).

So there it is, read the comments, and puzzle over why exactly someone thinks we should start selling lottery tickets.

On Decertification

August 27, 2009

The word is finally out.  In a report in the Boston Globe, nine Massachusetts libraries have been decertified by the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners due to the recession (four were named in an earlier article).  In Mass. decertification means that those libraries are inelligble for state aid and for membership in the regional resource sharing consortia.  It is also highly suggested that other libraries refuse to issue library cards to residents of decertified communities.

Before continuing, I think a moment of silence for the fallen is in order:

Besides these communities there are also two long standing one, Hancock was decertified back in 1975, and Tyringham’s decertification goes all the way back to 1961.  Then there are also the handful of towns that have simply never had a library.  These last two categories are the ones that give us pause at my own library.

I’m a supporter of the decertification blacklist, it gives an incredible incentive for municipalities to want to fund their libraries, some of which (I’m looking at you Fitchburg) really need the kick in the teeth.  However, my library is uniquely situated right by both Tyringham and Hancock, as well as 2 more towns that simply don’t have libraries.  We’re also often thought of us a county library, although we’re not (this is why our website is and all our stationary strongly proclaims us to be Pittsfield’s public library).  But as the largest library in the region we sort of are by default, and we still receive many patrons from these neighboring towns who have always considered us to be their library.

Turning away a patron from a town that has never had a library is very different to doing so to one from a city that thought it could cut 68% of the budget without repercussions.   And unfortunately the way the system is built refusing service to decertified communities really has to be an all or nothing prospect.  But by and large libraries across the state have shown a lot of solidarity on this issue, and the blacklist has remained.  This is probably as it should be, but it does leave a few towns unfortunately screwed, and they will stay screwed even when the economy turns around and budgets start increasing again (so I’m an optimist).

SOL: Westfield Athenaeum

July 21, 2009

MassLive is reporting that the Westfield Athenaeum (one of the greatest libraries in Western Mass.) has suffered a $50,000 budget cut and is being forced to institute a one day a month furlough.  Good luck to everyone at the other Athenaeum during these times.


July 1, 2009

FY10 is here, everyone run for your lives! Today marked the start of our reduced Summer hours, our new budget, and what feels like the second month of constant torrential downpours. Couple that with some on going networking issues (and coping with the dreaded Vista Black Screen of Death on my own precious laptop) and life could have gone better today.

Hopefully everyone else out there in library land is faring better. For those who aren’t, some library humor from McSweeney’s to cheer you up.

SOL Connecticut

June 25, 2009

The wave of library fiscal disasters has  turned toward my Southern neighbor.  Governor Rell has proposed a cut upwards of $5 million to libraries across the state.  The Connecticut Library Association is organizing the protest on this one.

S.O.L.: June Edition

June 23, 2009

A few more distress calls have gone out this week.  

In local news the Lawrence Library in Pepperell is facing closure pending the results of an override vote on the 29th.  The town’s Senior and Community Centers are also at risk of losing their funding, so things are not looking to good in Pepperell.

Then there’s Ohio, where libraries are at risk of losing half their funding state wide.  A great site’s been put together for sharing information and organizing supporters.

Best of luck everyone

The Merry-Go-Round

June 16, 2009

After a few months of uncertainty, it looks like we finally have budget for the next fiscal year.  It’s worse than we hoped for, but better than we feared it would be, and I probably can’t talk too much about it yet.  So instead let’s talk about the agony that the last few months of worrying have been.

First of all, this is no one’s fault, and our city in particular has been fair and straight forward with us throughout the entire process.  But given the current economic climate there was no way for anyone to have a clear picture of what will be in store for the state next year.  

This last year we suffered a mid-year cut that crippled our book budget and brought about a hiring freeze.  We were also told to prepare for the worst for the next year.  We held meeting after meeting to prepare scenarios, about 5 I think, none of which wound up matching the “final” outcome.  On top of this we’ve been working on our long range plan, which has been nearly an impossible task without knowledge of the resources likely to be available to us (in the end we just went with being optimistic).

Understandably the stress level has been pretty high and morale has bottomed out.  So the last few months have been hellish, and there are troubles ahead, but we’ll endure and I think things will be better once we have a more certain future, even if its not the one we would really like it to be.

The Fight for Kirstein

April 7, 2009

The BPL is having problems, same as every other library in the state, but their’s an extra layer of politics involved in their situation that makes things interesting.  Last year in a widely publicized battle the BPL’s director, Bernard Margolis, was ousted thanks to his conflict with Boston’s Mayor Menino, to be replaced with Amy Ryan in October.

Ryan is the political player that Margolis wasn’t, not to mention someone who gets along very well with Menino.  Which calls into question her decission to close the Kirstein Business Branch in the financial district and move the collection to the main library at Copley.  On the surface it makes sense, it saves on the upkeep of an extra building, adds accessible hours to the collection, and avoids the need to duplicate materials in both locations.

However, the other thing the Kirstein is known for is its $5.2 million endowment, which may or may not be dependant on the building (the legal battle is ongoing).  Now one of the key points that contributed to the Menino/Margolis conflict was the Mayor’s desire to meddle in the BPL’s budget, and its endowments specifically.  So here we’ve got a new director who has Menino’s ear, whose first major budget cutting solution is to move the one outlying collection with such an endowment so that it lies withing the purview of Copley.

I can sympathize with the wish to have tighter control over endowments.  We have one at my library so restricted that we can almost never use it.  There are thousands of dollars sitting in an account, and if we’re lucky one book comes out a year that fits into the requirements necessary to tap into those funds.  It’s incredibly frustrating when you need funding and there’s a pile of cash just sitting there that’s still out of reach.  

But that’s how they work, and if we can deal with it for a fund that’s totally useless than the BPL ought to be able to do the same for what is one of their greatest assets.

Link Day

March 30, 2009

Just a couple links today that I feel the need to share, one good two bad.

Let’s start with the bad.  First up, the Mayor of Concord, New Hampshire (the capital of my home state) has announced that he is considering closing the library completely to help close the city’s budget gap.  Nothing final yet, but there’s something really sad about the prospect of a library-less capital.

Second, in news that isn’t much better the NYPL is looking at a potential 17% budget cut, which would necessitate a loss of 465 jobs and a reduction of hours to an average of 41/week in each location.  To put that in a little perspective, my library is open 63 hours a week, the minium mandated by the state for a library serving a community the size of Pittsfield.  NYC is just a little bit larger than us.

Now to cheer everyone up a little after that, Sarah Houghton-Jan (aka the Librarian In Black) has just put together one of the best presentations I’ve seen in quite a while.  Thus I am now happy to present the 10 Lol Cat Laws of Web Services for Smaller and Underfunded Libraries.

Save Our Libraries

March 26, 2009

I’ve started up a permanent page in response to all the awful news about Mass. libraries that I’ve been covering.  I’ll try to keep it as up to date as possible.  Sadly, there are quite a few additions from my update last week.