Remember 'The Kickass Librarian' Video? She's Lost Her Library

One week ago we posted this funny video, The Kick Ass Librarian. It's worth a second watch.

Particularly now that we've learned from the scriptwriter, Jason Wilkins, that the library where it was filmed, the Reiche Branch of the Portland, ME Public Library is now CLOSED.

The video is very amusing, but the situation of libraries today IS NOT. Want to join our grassroots facebook campaign to get Oprah to help Libraries? Please visit & join our group Oprah, Libraries Need You! and get in on the ground-floor of our postcard campaign. We're inundating Oprah with 5,000 identical postcards calling on her to publicize the drastic situation of our libraries!

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Too many branches

Portland, Maine has a population of only 63,000.

He (Executive Director Steve Podgajny) noted that, with six locations (until July 1) in a city of 63,000, Portland is overbranched compared to every regional peer and will retain a high ratio of locations.

See: http://bit.ly/hdzMJk

The towns around Portland that would be considered part of the Portland metro area also have their own libraries. Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, and Westbrook all have libraries.

Re: Too many branches

ExecDirector Podgajny didn't close those branches because they were superfluous or unwanted -- he was forced to close them because there was no money to keep them open. He's doing the best with what he has, which is (effectively) less and less every year. The Reiche neighborhood fought to save its branch, and the Riverton neighborhood is now doing the same. Riverton is isolated; many of its patrons (especially kids) won't be able to reach another PPL branch. Volunteers cannot fully replace librarians. Portable libraries cannot entirely replace full-service libraries. The fact that Portland is better-served by its library system than many other cities of its size should be a matter of pride. Nobody benefits when a library closes.

New library

The main branch in Portland is also a short walk from the Reiche branch. And it's newly remodeled. It's a great space in a small city. The Reiche branch closing isn't a tragedy.

Closing Libraries

I just read a quote from a librarian who is in charge of a major system of eight libraries in Boston, who said, "There isn't a single library in the country that isn't feeling tremendous pressure on its budget," and he's correct, regardless of the circumstances of this library's closure. There are two forces at work: (1) budgets are shrinking everywhere, and (2) sources of information are proliferating, and both of these forces are causing people to question the role of libraries in a community. I am working with several libraries on this issue, and we're focusing on measuring the impact of libraries in their communities, showing how patrons benefit from library resources, and helping libraries develop budgets that truly reflect the needs of patrons.

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