What do you think about LA cutting two days out of the library’s operating hours? What’s your reaction to Jay Leno making fun of the problem? If you work in a library facing budget cuts, how do you show your value?
Library Budget Cuts Revisited
Back in March I wrote about the economic situation in Arizona and how that the city had chosen to dramatically cut the budgets for libraries, transportation, and senior centers. One city administrator compared libraries to cosmetic surgery, stating that libraries are only there to make you look good and are not a viable operation during times of crisis. Since I wrote that, public libraries have only continued to take a beating.
The latest news comes out of Los Angeles. Public libraries in LA already have reduced hours (they went from 7 days a week to 6 this year already) and now they are facing the loss of 100 jobs and the reduction of branch library operation days from 6 days a week to 5. Naturally, the library community and book lovers in LA are up in arms about this dramatic change. Staff members of the LA public library protested a few weeks ago in the middle of Hollywood at rush hour in order to get the most attention. While they succeeding capturing the attention of the media, it failed to prevent the city council from reducing hours and cutting jobs.
Budget cuts in libraries affect everyone, contrary to Jay Leno’s monologue from last week. More than 9 people are affected Jay, just FYI. I was really frustrated to hear about this, because libraries need advocates in the media, not dissers. People like Jay Leno and broadcasters at CNN would fall apart without librarians to do their research and pull relevant archival materials for them. They may not think so, but I guarantee they couldn’t do half the research librarians can. If we start acting like libraries don’t matter, then more libraries are going to be facing cuts. City councils, county commissions, and voters look at the media for influence. If LA can get away with cutting hours so much, what’s next? The Library of Congress?
People use libraries. In times of crisis, it is important to look at what services provide the most bang for your buck and what patrons use the most, as the Annoyed Librarian suggested today. Something I’ve learned over the past few weeks in my new job as a solo medical librarian, it’s important to show your value to those who dictate your budget. Demonstrating my value is not that much different than a public library demonstrating its value; we have to show those in charge that people use our services. If we can prove that and prove that cutting hours or cutting staff will hurt our users, then we stand a much better chance in staying open, having a solid budget, and keeping our staff.