Posted tagged ‘budgets’

Against My Wishes

August 5, 2009

I was recently asked if I’d be interested in sitting down with our circ and childrens librarians to discuss the possibility of building a video game collection at my library.  The answer was yes of course, so I’m greatly looking forward to that discussion.

However, as much as I might love the idea of us having such a collection, I’m having a very hard time building up a good case for why we should have one at this moment.  That really hurts to admit, but I can’t argue with the budget.  Our collection development budget was recently gutted and we’ve lost hours to our YA department.  We also desperately need to upgrade our public computers.  So as much as it pains me I would much rather have those things before allocating money towards a games collection.

And beyond that there’s the logistics issues.  In order to support such a collection, we need more consoles, even if just for the purposes of testing discs to make sure they work.  We have a Wii for our Rock Band/DDR events, but that’s it (maybe I could bring discs home to try out on my xbox if necessary).  I think getting a game collection would also finally push us to the point of needing a disc repair machine, which would cost a few grand.  We seem to be the only library without one now a days, but I’ve run the numbers a few times and its never been cost effective for us to have one previously.

Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I don’t think this is the time.  Thoughts?

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.

Holding Us Back

February 27, 2009

Just when you start to think that the world’s image of libraries is begining to catch up to the reality, something like this (via Halfawake) has to happen.  Yes the state auditor of Nebraska is investigating a library for daring to purchase a Wii and for trying it out on work time.  Furthermore, the state was spurred on by a local news report that all but condemed the library for being a library.  Oh, and we’re only talking about $400 or so to begin with.

So, a story about my new favorite patron for those doubters that are still out there.  We have a high school student who came to my library a few weeks back to meet a student he was helping to tutor.  While there he toured our remodeled local history department, gushed over our new equipment, and learned of our monthly Rock Band nights.  He also found out that I had challenged some of the players in the past and instantly threw down the gauntlet with me.  

So he showed up, brought some friends, lost (but only because he selected one of my best songs), and promised to come back with more friends next month.  He’s also going to advertise our game nights on the high school’s radio station, and he even gave an impromptu speech to his scout troop about how the library’s not just about books anymore.

You can’t ask for better word of mouth than that.  Our Wii was one of the best investments we’ve made, and the up front cost for it was nothing when you consider how many programs we’ve been able to run using it (hiring a children’s performer can cost a few hundred for a single show).

So Nebraska, get with the program (not to mention the 21st century) and don’t ostracisize a library for doing something that will continue to let it be a vital part of its community.

More Cuts

February 25, 2009

The Springfield Republican has a piece on cuts at my former home library.  The Jones Library in Amherst has lost $103k  and is having trouble deciding where they can make cuts.  They lost hours back in ’03 that were never recovered and are already at the minimum needed for state certification.  Furthermore it doesn’t help that one of their trustees is quoted in the article saying that she’s determined to maintain level service, which is a nice sentiment but doesn’t seem possible in the current climate.

I wish everyone at the Jones my best wishes.  They are probably the library that contributes most to our consortia, besides being an amazing library on its own.  They deserve the support of their community and I dearly hope they receive it.

Living with Uncertainty

February 10, 2009

Sadly we’re living in interesting times at the moment and now the panic is starting to set in.  No one in my library is willing to bet on the safety of our current budget and that’s causing us all to second guess ourselves.

Budgets have always been a bit of a game.  You want to spend everything every year to show you need that much (and dare we say more), but at the same time you want to ensure there’s money in reserve if you need it.  Then take that usual tension and put it into the current situation and you’ve got a nice recipe for chaos.

We’ve got selectors afraid to place orders, or to not to.  We have no idea how to handle coverage for sick/vacation days.  And for my part I spent far too long today debating how much book tape we should be using up on our paperbacks, which is something that really isn’t going to affect our bottom line to any extent worth mentioning.

And the fun’s just starting.

SOL

February 5, 2009

That stands for save our libraries despite what you may think.  The latest possible casualty of the situation in Mass. is the Winthrop public library.  The town is looking at making up a $511,000 budget shortfall for the year by closing the library down.  Suddenly our problems don’t seem so bad, at least we have some support from the city.

Budget Cuts: Round 2

February 4, 2009

I’m going to keep this short as I’m still not sure just how much I can freely say.  The city’s second round of budget slashing has gone through and unlike the first time when we came out unscathed besides a hiring freeze, we were hit.  Happily our staff shall remain unaffected (besides the increase in stress due to living through these times), but nothing else was.

We’ve lost a sixth of our total book budget for the year, of which we’ve already spent around 60%.  Then there are cuts to supplies, technology, professional development, pretty much all those invisible things that would help us aleviate some of the current concerns of our patrons.

We live in uncertain times.  About the only thing I can count on is that in a few months there will be a round 3.

Moral Crisis

January 29, 2009

Let’s talk about the OCLC fight (yes again).  The discourse over Autocat is starting to turn a little ugly.  People on both sides of the issue are getting really worked up over this (granted I’m one of them).

But let’s put this in perspective.  At this point in time the library world is in turmoil.  Budgets are being cut while usage is skyrocketing, and every day brings word of another publisher  dealing with similar issues.  There are plenty of deserving causes to get angry about, so why is this the one that people are reacting so strongly towards?

I think it’s because at its heart, this debate is between the ideals and the self-interest of libraries.  On one side are those who believe that we should promote access to information by any means necessary.  On the other are those who want to maintain control over those sources in order to guarantee that they will still be required in their role as middlemen.

Speaking from the idealist side of the argument, I get the the view.  I am a public librarian after all, and thus am just barely staying above the poverty line.  Plus I love my job, and want nothing more than to keep it.  But I still think that the way to do that isn’t to keep a stranglehold on our resources.  All that’s going to accomplish is pushing away all patrons except for those who can find no other sources for what they seek, and unless you’re one of the elite research libraries, just how many items do you have that are both truly unique and highly in demand?  And that’s assuming that those few patrons will actually be able to discover that you have those items in the first place, which is going to be impossible if we prevent any finding aids from having access to our data.

Thus our only recourse to stay viable is to remain open and share our data.

The State of the State

January 2, 2009

It’s a new year, but it’s not one that’s off to a particularly good start.  Govenor Patrick has announced that Massachusetts is looking at another $1 billion in cuts. The first batch of cuts were fairly painless, with the exception of those to higher education, which got gutted fairly drastically.  But the Govenor is saying that local aid is on the table for the next round.

Now many libraries throughout the state are already struggling with reduced budgets, and we’re still 6 months away from finding out what the new fiscal year will bring.  Dark times are ahead, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.