Having worked in the commercial world in my previous career, I understand about budgets. I’ve been responsible for some pretty damned big budget, and had to make sure they balance at the end of the year. I’ve also had to reduce spending in response to company-wide budget cuts. Lived through some pretty lean times, where the company has nearly gone bust during hard times, right through to times when the company flourished.
I keep an eye on what is happening in this industry of which my current career is placed.
I’ve read alot in blogs, newspapers and magazines – been involved in plenty of discussions too – about keeping libraries relevant. Keeping them evolving so that they are delivering what society needs and wants of us. This is important – its why we are here!
Today I read this post with dismay and my heart hurt.
You see, I’ve been watching what has been happening worldwide, particularly in the States, Canada and the UK. Budget cuts, followed by library closures.
The library closures have been said to be because the library isn’t relevant any more. They aren’t used as much. People have stopped going in. Circulations are down.
I have cousins in the UK and in Canada, one I spoke to recently said that her local library is closing down too. For these reasons.
However, the budgets had been cut, no new books had been bought for ages, no new services had been introduced, and existings services had been reduced or done away with. Budget cuts had rendered the library useless. Not staff, not the library itself. Bureaucrats had killed the library by cutting budget and refusing to invest in them.
It may reopen again later with “volunteers” running it.
I don’t agree with unqualified volunteers providing library services, any more than I agree with unqualified teachers in Charter Schools teaching our children.
In New Zealand much time and effort has been spent in encouraging our library staff to gain professional qualifications and to work towards LIANZA registration. We’ve made personal investment and sacrifices. We’re encouraged to upskills and develop professionally and to ensure our skills and knowledge is current and relevant.
I shake my head when I see these overseas institutions closing their library doors or handing their libraries over to unqualified unpaid workers.
And then I read this blog and I wept inside.
As a librarian who works on the heritage floor, I shudder to think of any books being “weeded” from any collection that is older than 10 years old. I saw the titles that were highlighted and was dismayed.
This person who sanctioned the weeding of this library, has taken a huge step towards rendering her library useless. This person has thrown away the heritage of the community, wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
I tried hard to imagine such a thing happening in my wonderful library – and it hurt far to much to, so I stopped.