Library Friends groups put politicians are alert

Northeast Philadelphia News reports the Friends of Fox Chase Library fighting for their local libraries.
Instead of librarians, which are professionals with a four year college degree and a master's degree in library service, the 20 half-day branches will be manned by a number of librarian assistants, who are not trained to find books.
"I don't think it's a very good idea," Behrend said. "We don't get paid to be a librarian. You're never compensated for it and the responsibility of running a branch is very big."
Therefore, "if you have a reference question, if it can't be answered by a library assistant, you will be directed to a full-service branch or given a number to call," Huntzberry said.
Which, to the Friends of Fox Chase, is ridiculous. "Communities all over should be up in arms," Handelman said.

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An Old Story

The tampering with the Free Library has been going on for several years.The budget cuts come from the Mayor's side of the issue because he submits the budget. Politics in Philadelphia take an interesting twist. Each politician is interested in retaining his seat and one can never tell which side they are on. The main problem as I see it is that the administration of the Free Library doesn't understand the needs of the branches or the patrons. I mentioned in another post that the library is spending over $120 million to redo the main branch which they claim cannot handle the holdings. Yet they engaged a high priced architect and the same Mayor that made the budget cuts also contributed $30 million of city funds to the project. If there is that much money for one project what about the public that uses the library system. You also hear very little from the local professional library community about the issue and certainly ALA is no where to be found. Political clout solely from voters where most of the electorate doesn't understand libraries or doesn't care will not influence the politicians. When there are teacher cuts the NEA or other professional organization start a media blitz. In Philadelphia as far as I know I am the only librarian who wrote a letter to the newspaper on the issue. I wish the friends group luck, but without professional support they will not get anywhere.

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