Sunday, December 6, 2009

Circulation Situation

It has become apparent throughout these uncertain economic times that the library as an institution remains an important resource to members of a given community. Take for example the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas. In November of 2009, the library received four out of five stars in a review by The Library Journal in recognition of its excellent service to patrons during tough times. Local patrons access the library for both personal education and entertainment needs and take advantage of the free exchange of information and ideas. In a period where citizens are tightening their budgets and becoming more concerned about economic matters, libraries such as TSCPL are proving to function as helping hands. The Library Journal reported in 2009 that almost eight in ten libraries that responded to a recent survey reported increased circulation. With increased circulation and public usage of libraries, we may see a more informed public that is sympathetic to the needs of local libraries.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Library Crisis in the News

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On June 11th, The Today Show did a segment called "Beyond Books: Libraries Lend a Hand in Recession." This video does a good job in summing up all the difficulties faced by libraries, from budget cuts to helping patrons find jobs and use the internet.

If video does not load, visit

A Library's Open System to Dealing with its Budget

Canton - not just home to IKEA, they also have quite a noteworthy public library.

Like any other city, Canton has seen its ups and downs during these tough economic times. For instance, take a look at the Budget,

2008 Budget: $6.4 Million

2009 Budget: $ 5.8 Million

2010 Budget: $ 5.2 Million

Notice a trend?

It does not take a mathematician to see that the past two years has led to more than $1.2 Million in budget cuts. At the same time, library usage is up 25% since 2007.The library knew it was going to have to cut the budget for 2010, so it did the unthinkable – in June the library Director, Eva M. Davis, posted an article explaining the situation and made an open forum where library patrons could voice their say about what should be cut or preserved. Davis responded to each post,

and the amount of participants was surprising - over 40 responses in two weeks!

By September, big decisions and budget cuts arrived. The library preserved its ability to stay open 7 days a week, with 72 hours of operation total. Reasons are listed for why the cuts were necessary and ranged from fewer property tax dollars (94% of the budget), to reducing the library millage rate from 1.5437 to 1.4980 - cutting taxes by $6 for every $100,000 in taxable value (millage rate is the amount per $1,ooo that is used to calculate taxes on property). There also still is fear of what will happen with the statewide revenue and its funding of MeL Cat, which affect statewide Databases and Interlibrary loans.

This library does not hide its facts, instead it forewarns patrons of things to come: longer lines, less staff, longer waits for books on hold, waiting on upgrade computers, less programs for computer classes & story time…the list for this library (like many others) continues.

PDF of 2010 Budget

Images from Flickr

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GDP and Libraries

This video is a recording of Bobby Kennedy giving a speech about GDP from 1968. He goes into detail about all of the misleading things that are taken into account in calculating GDP. He then goes on to share that those things that aren’t taken into account are what actually makes our country so great. He concludes that GDP encompasses many things that make up the U.S. economy but it cannot tell us what it is to be an American. I decided to take this idea and apply it to the realm of the library and how poorly we measure its success in terms of GDP.

GDP does not measure the ability to teach patrons to be life-long learners or cultivate a community spirit. GDP does not include our passion to build a better library that serves the community or the knowledge that can be found in the libraries’ collections. GDP does not gauge the delivery of service or the drive for change in technology. It does not measure our enthusiasm or fervor. It does not measure our understanding or experience. It does not measure our compassion or devotion. GDP can measure so much, but it does not measure the need for the library in our communities or tell us why it is still relevant in today’s society.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some Good News!

I came across this article on Library Journal and thought I'd share it with everyone since it involves good news. The Madison Public Library in Wisconsin will be receiving $37 million from the city to build a new library. The mayor of Madison, Dave Cieslewicz, supports this. He emphasizes that this is a decision to benefit the community in the long run. I think it is very refreshing to hear that not all politicians and city councils have given up on libraries as unimportant. Hopefully the city of Madison can be an example to other cities to keep funding their libraries. How great would it be to start reading more and more stories about libraries receiving additional funds instead of having their budgets cut or eliminated?

However, we must remain realistic as well. I realize that most cities right now do not have $37 million to give to a library. I just think that city councils should think twice about cutting library budgets. Instead, maybe city councils could attempt to keep library budgets the same or even provide some extra funding if possible. This may be wishful thinking, but the city of Madison gives me hope!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We're all in it together!

As much as the library profession (or any profession for that matter) would prefer to be outside of the realm of a faltering economy, the fact remains that every job is affected by the current economic status. However, IF we all are indeed experiencing the same job and budget cuts, what better way for libraries to experience some solidarity than by grouping together for support? In an interview with Dr. Camila Alire, President-Elect of the American Library Association from 2008-2009, she emphasizes the extreme importance of great communication and strong relationships between all different kinds of libraries around the nation. She says There is no better time, with all the challenges we are facing, to promote the concept of collaboration in libraries. We don’t want competition to be stronger than collaboration.” She emphasizes the need for immediate interaction between all libraries, large or small. She also worries about an increase in competition between different libraries as budgets are strained. However, now is not the time to become an isolated and individualized profession, especially within the job itself. With the bad economy comes a requirement for libraries to work together towards a common goal. After all, every library shares goals concerning the preservation and expansion of knowledge, and influences tend to be stronger when there is more than one institution or group standing behind an ideal. We may all be thinking of how to persevere in our individual careers during this difficult time, but lets not forget about all of our colleagues who can offer support and strong ties when we need them the most!
Interview with Dr. Camila Alire:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are Celebrities the Answer?

Drew Carey, after winning half a million on the Celebrity Edition of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” donated the money to a cause of his choice – the library! This happened in Ohio nine years ago, and is still being brought up in The Cleveland Leader. This rare happening was paired with his opinion on the Governors new plan to cut the library’s budget in half. His answer to this new ordeal – a fundraising carwash! Still, his playful solution is only a hypothetical answer.

Luckily, after much rallying and teamwork, the resulting budget cut in Ohio was not as drastic as Governor Ted Strickland proposed, with a reduction of “$84.3 million over the next two years, rather than the $227.3 million.” It is believed that the overpowering support of the community is one reason the governor’s cuts were rejected. This goes to show that with enough voices in a community, a library budget can be saved.

One thing I could not help thinking about is the strength of a celebrity’s voice in comparison to a community. A celebrity has the ability to get the attention of more people across the nation, while a community’s voice is usually not heard far beyond city limits. Celebrities have the ability to record public commercials and are used in pro-reading posters. So why not ask celebrities to join in on the community level of fighting to save libraries?

After further research I found a union of celebrities and libraries. In 2006 the U.K. began a campaign to improve libraries; it goes by the name Love Libraries. The campaign consists of “50 celebrity supporters from JK Rowling to the Hairy Bikers,” along with 500 champions, consisting of everyday people. As a Love Library Champion, it is easy to sign up to receive updates and the campaign uses this outlet to ask for consultations from supporters.

Perhaps we can utilize this hybrid idea from across the seas and make a Love Libraries for the United States. Who knows what can happen through the power of many voices.

For Some Free Poster Downloads of Celebrity's Promoting Reading visit: