Budget Woes

This morning, I read a blog post over at LibrarianInBlack about a USA Today story regarding library budget cuts. The following quote from someone who should know better gives me pause:

Cities are making tough choices, says Chris Hoene, director of policy and research at the National League of Cities. As people lose income or curb spending, income tax and sales tax revenue falls. Local officials must choose between core services, such as police and fire protection, and services such as libraries and parks.

“Obviously, when push comes to shove,” he says, city governments facing budget cuts “will protect city services considered more vital to the safety of the community.”

If the guy who is the director of policy and research for the National League of Cities doesn’t understand that during recessionary times libraries become essential services then we are all in SERIOUS trouble. During boom times public libraries are really nice extras that add tremendously to the communities they serve, but during any economic downturns in the computer/information age in which we now live, reducing library’s materials budgets, cutting services, or closing branches is a great way to turn a recession into a depression.

Even someone trying to land a job as a bagger in a grocery store today needs to apply for the job online. I would love to know how Mr. Hoene would afford his fellow Americans Internet access without the ability to pay for the Internet, a computer, or perhaps even a home? Furthermore, although the relationship between the unemployment rate and a community’s crime rate hasn’t been proven beyond a doubt, there do seem to be significant causal relationships in play.

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~ by Woeful on February 3, 2009.

11 Responses to “Budget Woes”

  1. There have been news stories the past week about the local public library and the increased use of the public PCs for job hunting. They’ve bought more PCs, and it’s still not enough– the PCs are busy every day with more people out of work and looking for work. They even have a job kiosk, and apparently staff will help patrons fill out their applications.

  2. Well, this is pretty much nothing new unfortunately. We need cops and firemen (and we do), so we keep those even if everything else goes to hell. Libraries are seen as the luxury, heaven forbid people actually need them. It’s a fine example of governmental shortsightedness at its worst. Sadly, it will take a lot more libraries closing before someone finally gets a clue.

  3. We definitely need the police to keep order, and fire services to save lives and protect property, but the shortsightedness of people in positions of power about the World that they helped build is astounding.

    The worse the economy becomes the more essential a service the library is in a World where everything has to be done on the Internet to secure gainful employment. By closing public libraries police and fire department are going to be a lot busier…

    LOL… I feel safer knowing that the police will arrest the guy who mugs me because he doesn’t have any money to buy food, and that the fire department will protect my Bushville hovel from burning to the ground when I’m unemployed.

    … If it gets bad enough maybe we can all become cops.

    I understand that salaries might have to be frozen, or even cut but if things don’t get better I see a future where we either shift the budget into providing more Internet access for all the masses of the unemployed who seek work, or we all go down together.

  4. It’s too bad the library didn’t lose a shitload of other people’s money. There’s plenty of support for those folks.

  5. The City I work for seems to be a bit better off than most so I don’t think my job is in jeopardy, nor do I think the Library is. This is probably because the City is so stingy to begin with, which now looks like good management. That said, I do forsee a salary freeze which I would be fine with as long as it goes for EVERYONE across the board (this means BOE bureaucracy as well). Times are tuff and it’s going to take sacrifices on all our parts for the betterment of our fellow citizens.

  6. And of course right now it’s tax season, which always increases traffic and creates greater demand for computers and staff time.

  7. Close libraries? Next they’ll be bringing back book burning

  8. Not sure what’s worse: a salary freeze or a hiring freeze. We’ve been getting socked with hiring freezes in the library for the last few years and it’s beyond crappy that you get stuck doing the work of two or three staffers for one paycheck.

  9. based on what you say, the library is the last lifeline for the unemployed and homeless… so cut that and those people *could* turn to crime which increases the burden on police and even the fire dept. so as much as I hate to see the increase of homeless in the library, it terrifies me when they’re not inside because, holy crap, they might be outside breaking into my car.

  10. hey woeful! can i quote your budget woes post for a newspaper school article? specifically i want to quote During boom times public libraries are really nice extras that add tremendously to the communities they serve, but during any economic downturns in the computer/information age in which we now live, reducing library’s materials budgets, cutting services, or closing branches is a great way to turn a recession into a depression.
    “” becasue tis briliant but i wont know how to cite you but i can just put you as an anynonymous librarian?? email me and let me know. my email is *****@hotmail.com and i can give you more info on where my article will be published. thanks!

  11. No problem Stephanie! When you cite me use my pseudonym.

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