Posted tagged ‘Massachusetts’

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).


August 18, 2009

So what happens when 6 librarians who only know one another from the internets get together?  And will it make a good premise for a reality TV show?  Those were the questions answered at Monday night’s first ever Mass librarian tweetup.  

So, what do librarians talk about over drinks?  The answer turned out to be tv (particulary reality shows and Dr. Who), what books people had on them (as well as how many), Germany, decorative bedding options, Jasper Fforde, Netflix, the awesomeness of the sadly absent @helgagrace, Wuthering Heights, #unimerpandas, cataloging, beer, careers, enormous piles of nachos, romance novels, and most other subjects.

All in all, one of the best conversations I’ve had in ages.  And I love that people are already talking about doing this again.  Next time perhaps with name tags, although it was fun playing spot the librarians (look for confused looking people trying to recognize each other by their profile avatars).

In Need of a Really Awesome Speech

August 9, 2009


Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow

Yesterday was one of the highlights of this Summer for me, I went to Jacob’s Pillow to see a talk by/interview with Rachel Maddow on the role of the arts in society.  It was astonishingly good, despite Maddow’s self effacing critique that she was incapable of actually discussing the arts (although she did give a brief but intricately researched history of Ted Shawn, Jacob’s Pillow’s founder).


Maddow essentially had two points to make.  1) The arts matter, and that “artistic freedom is 1 of the measures a country can take to show its greatness”.  2) Support for the arts needs to become a national concern, in particular we are very much in need of “a really awesome speech” to promote them.  

Someone, get on that!

Massachusetts Librarian Tweetup

July 28, 2009

Huge news!  There’s a tweetup for Mass. librarians in the works.  Just check out #malibtweetup for details as they develop.  Twitter has been an absolutely amazing means of networking for me, especially after the recent #followalibrarian day, and this should be the perfect capstone for it.

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.

Twitter Talk

July 16, 2009

Once again I have cleverly scheduled one of my computer workshops opposite Third Thursdays here in Pittsfield.  But that’s OK because people have signed up anyway, we’re actually on track for this to be my largest workshop to date.  Very exciting.

But there are still a few seats left.  So people of Pittsfield, the forecast tomorrow is calling for rain, you don’t want to be outside for that.  Instead, come to the Berkshire Athenaeum at 6 p.m. and learn all about Twitter, the hottest site on the internets.

And for any Twitterers out there, I’ll be giving a live demo.  So follow me between 6 and 7 and contribute to the conversation.

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

Orgainizing By Subject

May 1, 2009

As reported by the Swiss Army Librarian, the Chelmsford Public Library has started a rather ambitious reclassification project.  They’re aiming to gradually migrate over to a system that maintains some of the structure of Dewey while becoming more akin to BISAC.  

I wish them the best of luck, and they’re in great hands with Brian Herzog, but honestly the system seems a bit of a mess to me.  The designers clearly want to move to something a bit more user friendly, a very admirable goal certainly, but they’re still essentially sticking with Dewey’s organization.  For example why keep a subject begging to be broken out into it’s own grouping like computers within the general information section it resides in with DDC?

I’ll definitely be keeping up with Brian’s post to see how this project progresses.  Again, good luck.

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.

SOL: Recap Edition

March 16, 2009

In the wake of the Globe’s latest article on the difficulties Mass. libraries are facing (including word of four newly decertified libraries), I think it’s time to review where we are:

Boston: Layoffs have begun, 1 branch closed.

Boxford: Risking closure of West Boxford branch.

Brockton: Risking decertification.

Chemlsford: Risking Decertification

Dennis: $13k cut from budget

Fitchburg: Decertified, budget slashed 68%, temporarily used as a pet shelter.

Freetown: Decertified

Hubbardston: Decertified

Newton: 4 Branches closed, $89k cut from payroll.

Norton: Decertified

Pittsfield: $55k cut from budget

Springfield: 4 employees laid off

Wareham: Decertified

Winthrop: Risking Closure

I know there are plenty of other stories out there, so please share them if you have them.