‘Friending’ the Library

Our school system is cutting $7,000,000 from its administrative budget and laying off 600 teachers.  The parks and recreation department is closing some rec centers, cutting back staff and services, and raising fees.

The county budget is a thing of woe.

Nothing, however, has seemed to stun the citizenry more than an announcement earlier this month that our City/County Library board planned to lay off 148 employees and close 12 of our branch and regional libraries in two weeks.  That’s half of the branches in the county.

Within 24 hours of the closings announcement,  people had donated $35,000 online at the library’s website and hundreds more had been  placed in cash collection boxes inside the libraries.   The Friends of the Library donated $50,000.

The library board met again in response to the public outcry and voted to keep all the branches open, but for fewer days and shorter hours.  They will lay off  84 people and reduce salaries for the other workers.  The ax will fall on extras like story hour, book clubs, special programs for teens and job seekers, computer training, and maintenance. There will be no budget for new books or media items.

Even so, it’s a temporary patch.  The County Commission has already warned they will probably slash $17,000,000 in library funds next year.   It isn’t just the library and it isn’t just our county having these problems.

Even some churches  have joined in the campaign to raise money for the libraries.   Volunteers are outside the libraries, encouraging people to help.

When budgets are tight everywhere and draconian cuts in services are routine, why the loyalty to this particular institution?   These signs, among many others posted outside the main branch of our library, may explain.


10 thoughts on “‘Friending’ the Library

  1. Birdie

    Great post! and so timely. Many small towns rely on volunteers to staff the front desks and shelve books; perhaps the great state of Mecklenburg is headed back that way? Please email me a copy of the Groucho Marx quote photo. Actually I probably need it done up in calligraphy and framed in my living room.

  2. cw

    Love the quotes – it breaks my heart to think we may lose these wonderful caretakers of so much heart, history, life, laughter, tears, triumphs, horrors, and hope. :(;(

  3. Long time library lover here and was pleased at your communities response. Perhaps volunteer help would keep things moving. That won’t help those laid off however.
    It is getting where all of us are feeling the pinch, not just those out of work. We are in hard times and it won’t be over with tomorrow. We must pull together.

  4. Budget cuts everywhere — in every town, city, state. NYC may possibly lay off 8,000 teachers, cut police and fire services, and hike the price on everything as if we weren’t already taxed to death.

    I feel like it is the early 70’s again when the city budget was so bad that the Health and Hospital Corporation that ran the city hospitals was holding back our paychecks for weeks, as there was no money in the coffers to pay the nurses!

    I hope our country can do a big turn around soon .. it is so depressing.

    I loved each and every quote and copied all of them down. Thanks Marylee!

  5. Excellent post, I’m so glad you found me so I could find you! I’m a huge supporter of my local library…and worry so about their remaining viable institutions!

  6. Although I don’t use the library I am a big supporter of it and I always go to the Friends of the Library twice yearly book sale….thousands and thousands of people show up and they make alot of money……I always try to do my part and walk away with boxes of books…..and everyone there that runs the 3 day event are volunteers…

  7. As a non Westerner who has read most of the Western Canon, I find the lack of interest in liberal arts “curious” to say the least… When Bill Gates talked about needing to raise the level of tech/Eng/math educations in the US, I felt torn. But tis true though: knowing Shakespeare and Herman Hesse does not a good bread-earner make…

  8. Btw, I love all the quotes! I sent the link to a librarian knowing that she’d appreciate knowing how important her job is to mankind! 🙂

  9. dancingwithfrogs

    Boy. Things must still be terrible over in the US.
    I can’t imagine things like that happening here.
    (goes off and hurriedly knocks on wood just in case…)

  10. Our local newspaper noted, several days ago, that a local school district is laying off teachers and cutting critical programs (preschool and arts). In the same paper, a separate article reported that a local gambling casino is expanding–so much so, they need new table games workers.

    That got me fired up, and I shot a letter to the editor off post-haste. I opined that “The next time we read any story about the declining state of education in the United States, we need look no further than where we have placed our values. . .What values do we as a society have when we cut jobs in our public schools and expand jobs at a local gambling casino?”

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