Boyd Tonkin: If it wished to rebuild mutual trust, social capital and motives for hope and change in the riot-wrecked streets of a nation's cities, where might a truly idealistic society begin? Perhaps its policy-makers, with money no object, would plan a network of more than 4000 dedicated cultural and community centres, their locations scattered throughout urban areas – not just in downtown hubs and comfortable suburbs. It would protect these centres with a core role defined by statute, but give them enough flexibility to innovate, to connect and to co-operate.
Hopelessly utopian, I know. Except that Britain's network of public libraries already exists. Or rather, it hangs on by the skin of its under-resourced teeth. Roughly 10 per cent of the total, more than 400, currently stand at risk of closure. Dozens have already shut.
I know and have heard all the possible objections to a view of local libraries that puts them at the heart of community renewal. Potential rioters and looters don't care about them anyway. To enter a library in the first place identifies a young person as part of the solution, not the problem. Feral teens who trash the shops will not take an interest in the library until the day dawns when it agrees to stock top-brand ,sportswear and flat-screen TVs.
Nice story from The Baltimore Sun: A former employee of the Baltimore County Public Library, who died in 2006, has left nearly half a million dollars to the foundation that supports to the 17-branch library system.
"It is the largest one-time gift in the history of the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library," said foundation president Jeffrey Smith.
The gift of $475,000 came from the estate of former librarian Margaret "Peggy" Peterson, whose 23 years with BCPL had made her a familiar face at the Reisterstown, Catonsville and Pikesville branches, and at the BCPL administrative offices in Towson.
"We are grateful to Ms. Peterson for her generosity and for her careful planning," Smith said.
Are you a New Yorker? Want to help keep NYC libraries open? Call 311 (or outside NY, call 212-NEW-YORK) and tell the operator you don't want your library budgets cut. If you're on twitter, tweet @311NYC #libraries.
Group protests 'Bloombergville' Budget Cuts. The NYPD has forced the group of protestors to move a few times but they've held their signs (including "We will not be shushed!") high at various spots near City Hall since Tuesday night. and
First and foremost there was Andrew Carnegie. Now, there's the New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwartzman Building where a centennial was recently celebrated. And many, many others...some of whom have pretty funny names.
For a bit of mid-week levity, here's a New Yorker piece about the phenomenon of naming libraries after their generous benefactors:
The Queens County-Abilify Library Museum and Center for the Performing Arts has been unusually blessed with financial angels who shelter us under their collective wing, and we wish to take a moment to recognize them here. Like most cultural institutions of its kind, the Q.C.-A.L.M. & C.P.A. literally would be unable to function without the kindness and generosity of our donors. To put it plainly, we owe them our lives. The sad part, however, is that although visitors to our facility see the names of these individuals gracing our walls, door lintels, exit signs, and other flat surfaces, they don’t know, and rarely stop to inquire, who these wonderful people are. For that regrettable ignorance the following is a small attempt at a remedy.
This week's New Yorker cover ...a picture worth, well, a lot of words.
The image is entitled "“The Library: Roaring Into the Future” by Eric Drooker and it depicts the two famous lions, Patience and Fortitude, protecting the entry to the Main Building of the New York Public Library (the Stephen A. Schwartzman building) currently celebrating its hundredth birthday.
Beautiful, but gloomy. Is this what the future holds for public libraries, all libraries?
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.
Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.
“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.
“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.”
McClatchy DC discusses how cuts have affected libraries in various parts of the country.
From the article: "After spurring a surge in public library use nationwide, the tough economy is forcing many branches to cut staff, hours and programming right when many cash-strapped people need them most.
As in previous downturns, Americans turned to their libraries during the Great Recession for free children's programming or to borrow books, movies and music. In 2008, when the economy was in freefall, a record 68 percent of Americans had a library card, and library visits and borrowing spiked as well.
However, a whopping 72 percent of public libraries reported budget cuts this year; 43 percent cut staff as well, according to a recent survey by the Library Journal.
While public libraries rely overwhelmingly on local tax dollars, 19 states cut public library funding this year, and 17 reported library closures, a new American Library Association survey found.
Big-city libraries have been hit hardest. Among those with more than a million annual visitors, roughly 9 in 10 cut budgets and staff. System-wide cuts in their operating hours, on average, amounted to two branch closings, the journal survey found.
Elegy for librarians: After all the budget cutting's done, who'll be around to help us ask the sharper questions?
If librarians seem distracted these days, you can't blame them. They're worried that they'll lose jobs. As cities, counties, public schools and universities all grapple with recessionary budget cuts, libraries look like low-hanging fruit. In this iEverything age, the thinking goes, books are musty relics. And without books, who needs librarians? The truth is that we've never needed them more
[Thanks to Gary for the link!]
Submitted by effinglibrarian on March 21, 2011 - 10:38am
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.
The Ohio Library Council has a breakdown posted concerning Ohio Governor John Kasich's 2012-2013 biennium budget. Public libraries are looking at a 5% cut in state-level funding. Compared to libraries, WJW in Cleveland reports townships and municipalities were hit in the budget with a 25% cut in Local Government Fund dollars in 2012 and a 50% cut of such funds in 2013. Columbus-based Ohio News Network also reports on the budget that other proposals include capping tuition, creating three-year bachelor's degree programs, and increasing funding for K-12 education.
Voters passed Measure L, which would set aside a greater share of property tax revenue for the city's cash-strapped library system. That measure was backed by library advocates but opposed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which feared the measure would result in budget cuts to public safety.
Submitted by Bibliofuture on March 3, 2011 - 10:53am
Interesting piece at NYT.com about the economic situation of cities. Relevance to libraries is that many public libraries operate within the economics of a municipality.
Line from article: The city managers couldn’t make their budget and eliminated financing for the local museum, the symphony and the senior center. (This is the kind of list that often contains "library")
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, [librarians are] "normally a quiet bunch" but about 250 from all corners of the state made some noise Wednesday at the Texas Capitol as they tried to head off looming budget cuts that would virtually eliminate state support for public libraries.
"If these programs are not funded, then it will affect every community, every school and every institution of higher education in the state," said Gloria Meraz, communications director for the Texas Library Association.
The cutbacks could mean reduced access to TexShare, a mammoth database service available in 677 libraries, and to a K-12 database provided for 4.5 million Texas schoolchildren and 500,000 educators.
"If the Fort Worth Public Library had to negotiate for the TexShare database on their own, it would cost $2 million a year," said Peggy Rudd, director of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Also targeted for elimination is funding for TexNet Interlibrary Loan programs and Loan Star Library Grants, which provides money to extend hours and other services.
Submitted by birdie on February 16, 2011 - 10:59am
LA Weekly: Due to drastically reduced library hours and staff, which were caused by severe, City Hall-approved budget cuts children's librarian Terri Markson says her outreach work to local schools has been diminished, it's very difficult to arrange student field trips to the Fairfax Branch, and the library is now closed on Mondays -- a crucial day that starts off a student's academic week.
"The library is where (kids) type up their homework," says Markson, noting that many students from low- to middle-income families don't own a computer and printer and go to a library to use those things.
It's a shocking situation, in which politicians have quickly turned one of the largest and most respected library systems in the country into an institution that's now less kid-friendly, less student-friendly, and less family-friendly. But Measure L, an initiative authored by L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks, seeks to help those kids and families by better funding L.A.'s public libraries.
The ballot measure will not increase taxes, but dedicates a slightly larger slice of existing money in the city's general fund to the library system.
Submitted by birdie on February 11, 2011 - 10:10am
CAMDEN (AP) — The latest blow to this downtrodden city came Thursday as the downtown branch of the public library was closing for good.
From The AP: The main branch of the Camden Free Public Library, in a high-ceilinged former bank building, was a victim of the same budget crisis that resulted in layoffs last month of nearly 400 city government employees, including nearly half the police department and one-third of the firefighters.
Now, many residents of this city that ranks among the nation’s poorest and most crime-ridden will need to search elsewhere for access to computers or books. The men who play a trash-talking brand of chess in front of the big windows say they’ll take their boards to the one remaining branch, a bus ride away.
Prentiss Truluck, one of the chess players, said that remaining library — modern but remote — will be stressed with more users. “They didn’t consider the overcrowdedness,” he said, predicting long and uneasy waits for the computers there. “There are going to be crimes committed at the library.”
The library made news around the world in August when its directors announced plans to close all three branches. No U.S. city this large, with about 80,000 residents, had lost all its libraries before.
Submitted by Bibliophile Adv... on February 1, 2011 - 8:20am
Shifting Sands: Science Researchers on Google Scholar, Web of Science, and PubMed, with Implications for Library Collections Budgets , Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Fall 2010
Authors: Christy Hightower, Christy Caldwell
A study done by two librarians named Christy at UC Santa Cruz in Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship. Interesting implications for content budgets and publishers...