Posted tagged ‘recession’

Bookless

September 15, 2009

I’ve avoided talking about the Cushing Academy bookless library bruhaha thus far.  Mostly this is because there is really nothing that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  But also because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the situation.  The mere thought of a bookless library makes me shudder, but on the other hand libraries really do need to start thinking a bit radically and this certainly qualifies as that.

But now my local paper has gotten into the act, and has associated my library (as well as the nearby Lenox Library) and our budget difficulties with Cushing.  However, Cushing’s decission to turn their library into a techie information center doesn’t exactly speak ill of their budget.  What it does say is the Academy felt the books were being underutilized and that they were desperate to get students in the door.

Now this is a plan that just reeks of desperation.  The original globe article indicates that the library’s books were not circulating (albeit with fairly scant supporting evidence).  But let’s be generous and take this statement at face value.  If the academy is pumping thousands of dollars into a book collection that isn’t justifying that expense, then it’s not too hard to see how they could reach the conclusion that the books should go.  

This is sad, and horrifying, and despicable, but all too understandable.  I’m really hoping that history will eventually show Cushing to have been far too short sighted, but that may not be the case.  And I’ll be really surprised if another library doesn’t follow their example.

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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 pittsfieldlibrary.org 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 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.

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.