Libraries, the Universe and Everything
I'd like to take this time to put forward a grand unifying theory of libraries:
Librarians are not unified.
I was reading a discussion of at the Annoyed Librarian and some librarians continue to follow the dream of believing in a world where all librarians share the common goals of service to the customer, preservation of materials, intellectual freedom and open access to information.
And they are completely and totally wrong.
The primary goal of a librarian is to be a librarian. And that means getting paid to do it.
If you're not getting paid to be a librarian, then you're not a librarian. You might have a degree, but currently you're a barista. Or a teacher. Or a consultant.
But your number one goal is to get a regular paycheck.
And that is the dilemma.
Because to earn that paycheck, you have two main avenues of service: the private sector or the public sector. And that is where the problem exists.
The goals of the private sector are almost completely antipodal to the goals of the public sector. Since the public sector relies on public monies, or taxes, that are paid by the private sector, there's almost a perpetual battle to divide those assets. Because the private sector would prefer to pay less in taxes while the public sector would benefit from more being collected. And as one side grows stronger, the other tends to weaken.
From where does the money come?
If your library relies on property tax money, you are suffering. But it you work for a large corporation, you might have enough money to hire, maybe, a second librarian (!).
But when taxes are higher, does that same corporation donate the money to the foundation that supports the library? It depends on the tax benefits. Librarians who rely on private investment may not always be at odds with public librarians, but since public librarians depend on the inability of corporations to avoid paying taxes, public librarians exist at the mercy of decisions made by employers of private librarians. Librarians who depend on public money are almost always arguing for more of it.
So when I read that some of you believe all librarians have the same goals, I wonder if you even understand how all that stuff in your library gets bought. And when you march on your state capitol to protest cuts to library funding, are the private librarians marching along with you?
Now, once we resolve the money issues and everyone is employed and we all work normal hours and someone is there to cover our break and we have a little money left over at the end of the week to get drunk, then, sure the ideals defining service to the customer, preservation of materials, intellectual freedom and open access to information are right there, for all of us, equally.
But public and private librarians just remember, they, and I'm not saying which "they" they are, are are the enemy.