Annoyed Librarian
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Budget Tips for Hard Times

Things are tough all over. My library is looking at so many cuts that we were thinking about packing what books we could into the old pickup and heading to Californy with our neighbors from the Joad Library. Then we read about this. The good news at Fresno State is that they have a brand new library. Yay! The bad news is they don’t have any furniture for it because the state budget has been frozen. Bummer :(  I guess my colleagues and I will have to stay where we are and not hope for better times in the land of milk and honey. Tom’s unhappy, but Rose of Sharon is taking it well.

We’ve all had to think a lot about our budgets recently, though, and it looks like things aren’t going to be looking up anytime soon. Unfortunately my library already has furniture, so we can’t save any money by not buying more. However, we’ve been brainstorming about ways to make or save money for the library. The saving money isn’t so hard, because we can always just stop buying books again. It’s the making money that’s difficult. As a librarian, my preferred way of making money is to have some higher group hand it to me and tell me to spend it. Every year, someone just hands me a chunk of money, sometimes large, sometimes small, and says, spend, spend! And I do.

But in these tough times we need to explore all options, and in the interest of good fellowship, which you know I’ve oodles of, I wanted to share some of our ideas.

Ways to Make Money

Put on a play in the old barn!  We would have to charge for admission, of  course. This was everyone’s favorite idea, and the one we thought would generate the most income. The whole gang was really excited. Spanky offered to make all the costumes for us because he has a way with a sewing machine, as anyone who has scene his vibrant, colorful trousers would attest. Darla and Alfalfa offered to decorate the sets. We asked Buckwheat if he would help write the play, but he just sat there scowling and muttering something about it being African American History Month and that we should stop calling him Buckwheat. Whatever. Everybody’s so serious around here.

Bake sale! A perennial favorite with librarians, who love to bake almost as much as they love to eat. This one was easy to do, too, and we’ve already done it. We sold 37 cakes, 24 of them to the same librarian. What can I say? She really likes cake. It shows.

Knitting sale! The other thing librarians like to do. The problem is, we can’t seem to get anyone but the librarians interested in anything we make. I’ve already bought 14 hats and a set of egg cozies, and I’m not sure my bank account or my apartment can handle much more of this.

Collect cans for recycling! This one is pretty easy. Our reference desk is slow, and those folks need to earn their keep some way. Obviously there aren’t a lot of questions to answer, but there sure are a lot of cans around campus to pick up.

Book sale! Libraries do this all the time, but they usually restrict themselves to gift books and discards. What if we just let the patrons go through the stacks and pick what they like? This not only raises some money for us, but relieves some congestion in the stacks – a win-win scenario.

Bookshelf sale! We’ll have some empty ones.

Casino night! Do you know how much those casinos make? A lot, I can tell you. Ours is being run by an American Indian, so we’re hoping we won’t even have to pay taxes on the winnings. We also put a row of slot machines in the cafe.

Tip jars at all the service desks! This one explains itself. We encourage patrons to leave tips. If they say they have no cash, we tell them we take credit cards as well. If they say they have no credit cards, we refuse them service.

Sell plasma! Often universities and colleges host blood drives and the librarians along with everyone else herd into those campers and give up their blood for free. For free! This can’t last. The librarians got together and decided that the profession already sucks out our souls for free; people are going to have to pay to suck our blood.

Martini-bar in the stacks!
The AL’s personal favorite.

Ways to Save Money

Stop buying paper! I think this one’s a no-brainer. We’ve been hearing for years about the paperless office. We’re striving for the paperless library. Sure, one can use recycled paper which isn’t that bad on the environment, but it still costs money. Much easier to just get rid of the paper, and with it all the papier accoutrements: pens, pencils, paperclips, printers, copiers, etc. Some whiny employee complains about reading that 300-page spreadsheet on the computer? Good grief, get with the 21st century, people. If a student complains that she wants to print out a paper to turn in to class, we assure her that professors now want papers as email attachments. We don’t know if it’s true, but we don’t really care. Copy a book chapter? Ever heard of a scanner, Mr. Fancypants? People don’t like it? Tough. They should have put more in the tip jars.

Stop buying computers! True, we might regret this one day, but for now it doesn’t matter. So what if you’re using a PC that was middle of the road four years ago. I used my Macintosh II for ten years. Suck it up. Those UMPCs are looking better all the time.

Stop buying anything but the big article databases!
Seriously. Stop buying everything but Proquest and JSTOR, and maybe Muse for the humanists. See how long it takes anyone to notice. You might be surprised.

Open the library one hour per week!
Like they used to do in the old days.

This last one will probably save us completely.

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Comments

  1. Hank Stevenson says:

    Better stick with the whining. Comedy is not your thing.

  2. Arkie says:

    I beg to differ…I thought it was hilarious and had to contain myself while at the circ desk.

  3. Picard says:

    Good ideas all. #1 – make it so. While you are at it send Worf down to the teen deck and confiscate all the Wi’s.

  4. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    You clever ‘gel’ you! hee hee hee

    LSHIWMP!!!!

  5. Library Observer says:

    “I beg to differ…I thought it was hilarious and had to contain myself while at the circ desk.” AL, your previous bog entry on dissenters must take an all-time prize. I know this is for the above, but your previous one deserves a Blue Ribbon, and a place in the top ten. It’s a real hard act to follow. I can just imagine you getting a frantic email or phone call to change the subject quick. ;-)

  6. AL says:

    Then can’t all be winners, but I like them all.

  7. Ron Paul says:

    I laughed! – “Tom’s unhappy, but Rose of Sharon is taking it well.” :D

  8. Mr. Greenjeans says:

    I say you ask Rose of Sharon to whip you up some nice artisanal cheese.

  9. dork says:

    “Tip jars at all the service desks! This one explains itself. We encourage patrons to leave tips. If they say they have no cash, we tell them we take credit cards as well. If they say they have no credit cards, we refuse them service.” Hahahaha*snort*hahaha! That’s funny! I’m yo number one fan, luv. Show me some sugar!

  10. Bob Smyrczik says:

    Any of the AL sheep have any original thought to share, or do you all just like to wave your pom poms and cheer?

  11. sidney says:

    Wow, Bob. You’ve left the same comment on two consecutive posts. Your originality astounds us all.

  12. Library Cattle says:

    “Any of the AL sheep have any original thought to share, or do you all just like to wave your pom poms and cheer?”
    I’ll tailor this one to the specific topic here. Bingo tournaments and a drunk rolling contest. Staff members can go downtown [or maybe beck in the stacks, restrooms, etc.] and see who can collect the most “funding” by this route. Winner gets an unopened bottle of “Two Buck Chuck”. The Cafe can get a liquor license and serve mixed drinks, with a “Happy Hour”. To improve staff morale – free beer and drinks for laid-off staff funded by one of the tip jars.

  13. Original Library Cynic says:

    One of those dunking machines, where a clown shouts out the text of the stupidest ALA Council resolutions while people pay to throw baseballs and dunk him/her.

  14. California Deaming says:

    ….For those caught working in certain state funded libraries out on the West Coast, an IOU making contest for Ahnold, and bearing his portrait drawn in Crayola. These can be dumped off either at his office in Sacramento or the Governator’s Mansion. Ability to crash at the library for anyone evicted because of state austerity measures. Opening land adjacent to the library for “Ahnold Acres”, a tent city.

  15. Charlie The Tuna says:

    “Requisition” the catalytic converters off California state vehicles at night and use the proceeds from the platinum to “redeem” the state IOU’s.

  16. Henry says:

    Charge admission for midnight readings of erotica by your best-looking librarians, or the best-looking person you can find to volunteer. This might actually work.

  17. Jus Sayin says:

    Convert the library into an after hours strip-club. Complete with poles and a stage. Then charge rent.

  18. Slumdog Librarian says:

    Hold a lottery for an entry level Librarian I slot. Even at a buck a shot the typical person would probably be saving money and have as good a chance of getting anything. “Do you feel Lucky Today?” could read the ad header. Another possibility would be in “Reality TV”. Cable channels are starved for anything to fill dead air time. For this you’d need video cameras and maybe an old gym to fill with semi-sadistic spectators. Next you ADVERTISE in AMERICAN LIBRARIES Jobs listing, but be intentionally vague, except for the position to be “Applied For”. This, though not mentioned, id for the auditions to “Who Wants to be a Librarian?!”. Same general roles for the “Selection Committee” as another show
    that runs on Fox, but will remain unnamed here. Actually, probably not hard to do, if you take your normal selection committee and use the typical “time in the barrel” as a guideline for the slot. Shouldn’t be any more disappointing or sadistic as a normal library interview/job hunt. Bottom line is to charge admission to the taping, like you would a wrestling match. Have mixed in with the legalese of the broadcast release language absolving the library from responsibility for any psychological or other damage incurred.

  19. SLUMDOG LIBRARIAN says:

    I forgot to mention that you should investigate getting on-air sponsorship from some dog food, detergeant, and/or Feminine Hygene product.

  20. Proudly Anonymous says:

    Start charging an small entrance fee for Dance Dance Revolution and other gaming events and have a cash bar available during the programs.

  21. Proudly Anonymous says:

    Just read the Fresno article. Many of these students are young. I am assuming the building is carpeted. They can sit in study goups on the floor or propped against the wall by the outlets.Less furniture means more room for them to spread out.

  22. Bob Smyrczik says:

    I appreciate the efforts that posters are making to say something original. Even though they’re not very funny, at least the comments are better than the usual “You’re so smart AL, you’re the bestest ever!” Thank you for trying.

  23. Maurice J. Thomas-Sounderpanidan III says:

    Bob, I sense a certain librarydude-ness in your composition and type. Are you in fact librarydude?

  24. Bob Smyrczik says:

    Thank you for the compliment, but I am not librarydude, although I do worship him.

  25. librarydude says:

    Thank you Bob. It’s nice to know I have my own flock although it can’t compare to the size of AL’s.

  26. jomfritz says:

    Here’s another way to make money – sell naming rights to your libraries to corporate sponsors e.g. “Smith’s Dry Cleaners Public Library”.

  27. Blago of Illinois says:

    I say: Back to working the streets!

  28. sidney says:

    Gosh, librarydude, maybe if you wanted a bigger flock you could write a really popular blog, but that might take a lot more effort and ability than leaving sour grapes comments here.

  29. Morse says:

    I like the idea of corporate sponsorship. Our libraries could look like ball parks, with ads all around. And we could all turn ourselves into living advertisements like those NASCAR drivers in their jumpsuits.

  30. librarydude says:

    Gosh, librarydude, maybe if you wanted a bigger flock you could write a really popular blog, but that might take a lot more effort and ability than leaving sour grapes comments here.

    I don’t want a flock. I’m more interested in people who think for themselves, not the sheep that graze on this blog, pausing momentarily to post a comment like “You go girl! I wish I could think like you!”

  31. sidney says:

    Sheep = people who don’t agree with librarydude. Uh huh. Just more sour grapes.

  32. benny says:

    funny stuff.

    what’s with these haters? damn.

  33. librarydude says:

    Sheep = people who parrot the party line because the only way they can be popular is to ride the coattails of someone who is popular.

  34. Bob Smyrczik says:

    I wish librarydude would create his own blog. It would be nice to have a refreshing voice in libraryland. Right now, it’s either “I hate libraries” or “I love libraries.” There’s a void of unique voices.

  35. TooMuch says:

    Librarydude: I smell Troll

  36. The Man With No Name says:

    Hey, on your last entry I commented that you were the Stephen Colbert of the library world BY DEFAULT. Not because you were a great satirist, but because NOBODY ELSE is bothering.

    As for this post, well, I guess if I was being generous I’d term it “moderately amusing.” But, I guess trying to face the current situation without humor is just too depressing. Gonna be even more unemployed librarians out there, as even the ones WITH crappy library jobs get laid off. Many still making endless payments on their worthless graduate degrees. Students loans are the one debt you can NEVER get out of, btw.

    Meanwhile, on the ALA website, while we go through the worst economic downturn since the 1930′s the headlines there are all about attending their pointless conferences, buying “READ” posters, and taking online classes on how to read books to children.

  37. hoops says:

    I was glad to see Duke get beat last night but there was no way I thought they would lose by 27 points. Go Heels!

  38. Library Observer says:

    “”Meanwhile, on the ALA website, while we go through the worst economic downturn since the 1930′s the headlines there are all about attending their pointless conferences, buying “READ” posters, and taking online classes on how to read books to children.” This has it’s place, perhaps, but not in the present situation. It’s like some people are wearing blinders. Maybe they figure that by ignoring it this will just go away.

  39. Bobby Hurley says:

    It was definitely a bad loss but Duke will be back by tournament time. There’s no shame in losing on Clemson’s home floor although the margin of victory was a little surprising.

  40. anonymous says:

    According to several media reports today, Sarah Palin is blaming pretty much everything on anonymous bloggers.

  41. so what says:

    At least she pays her taxes.

  42. Vegans For Meat says:

    Don’t let librarydude fool you. He’s monitoring this blog 24/7. Nothing gets by his radar. It’s really a sign of affection for the AL and all the anonymous, horrible louses, terrible anti-democratic, conservative, peurile, axis of evil commentors that hang out here. We welcome you librarydude, you’re one of us.

  43. librarydude says:

    Thank you for the warm welcome. I indeed have affection for the AL and her sheep. Kind of like that feeling when you see a little puppy lost out on the street. Oh wait, that feeling is pity. Never mind.

  44. baa baa black sheep says:

    “Stop buying anything but the big article databases! Seriously. Stop buying everything but Proquest and JSTOR, and maybe Muse for the humanists. See how long it takes anyone to notice. You might be surprised.”

    So true. How about stop buying multiple databases with similar content? Do we need Proquest, Infotrac, and EBSCO?

  45. Original Library Cynic says:

    How about if we stop buying multiple librarians. Why does a public library have a book shelver, reference librarian, and storyteller when one person could easily do all three jobs?

  46. Mimionthebeach says:

    Martini bar … hmmmmm … we need an official cocktail big time. Recipes anyone? I’ll drinking anything as long as it is STRONG.

  47. givemeabreak says:

    Librarydude’s posting’s are each about 2 lines of space. So why the comments about getting his own blog? He’s only voicing his opinion, so get over it.

  48. whoever says:

    “So true. How about stop buying multiple databases with similar content? Do we need Proquest, Infotrac, and EBSCO?”

    Print reference sources also duplicate each other. One of the best examples of vendor-inanity I ever encountered came when I walked up to a publisher’s booth at my state library association conference, looked at their copy of some historical dictionary of early America or something-another, and asked how the entries in their new book for people who were also in the ANB and DNB differed in substance from the entries in the latter two works. The buffoons *couldn’t answer*. They didn’t know (and didn’t really seem aware that there were such things as the American National Biography and Dictionary of National Biography).

    If you’re one of those publishers who repackages the same stuff and hawks it to the unsuspecting, you suck. And you ain’t foolin’ me.

  49. person with a comment says:

    Oh my goodness-gwacious! People are attacking each other anonymously here! They’ve criticized “library dude” and even database vendors! They are so vicious and mean and soooo not helping the cause of constructive library discourse! Maybe someone from some sort of Librarians’ Guild will come riding to the rescue and bravely take on all the evil Ones Who Cannot Be Named!

    Remember, any discourse that uses satire, parody, or hyperbole is ever, EVER constructive or substantive! We’ve should have all learned our lesson from the comments section of the last post!

  50. Stephen Denney says:

    here at UC Berkeley library, there is a plan to move the technical services unit off campus to a about ten miles away in Richmond, which will be a difficult commute for many workers and student workers without cars. Everyone I have talked to, including supervisors, oppose this move. Yet I guess the powers that be will push on with the project, even at the cost of losing many workers, particularly student workers.

  51. librarydude says:

    Most of the student workers at Berkeley are probably living in trees anyway, so a little walk won’t bother them.

  52. Stephen Denney says:

    No, most of the student workers will probably not be able to work there, due to the long commute and the fact that for the most part they don’t have cars

  53. stop whining says:

    They can take the bus. Life’s hard all over.

  54. Proudly Anonymous says:

    Go with Ebsco. Their user interface is better than that of Proquest.

    Perhaps the Berkely student workers could carpool? At any rate, they are being taught an important lesson about the evils of outsourcing (I assume the local labor is cheaper in Richmond).

  55. Stephen Denney says:

    It isn’t practical for most students to take the bus, given the commute, so the result will be that less students will work there and therefore more books will remain unprocessed. A wiser option would be to place our unit in one of the many vacated buildings in downtown Berkeley.

  56. Casual Observer says:

    “No, most of the student workers will probably not be able to work there, due to the long commute and the fact that for the most part they don’t have cars” Has anyone considered a way to shuttle them from the campus? I know of several campus busses/shuttles that operate over as wide a distance in another state/ region. If they can make it to the campus, they can link to the bus/shuttle.

  57. Bob Smyrczik says:

    Maybe the library staff that are sitting around playing games on their computers can actually process the books.

  58. Madison Kearns says:

    It isn’t practical for most students to take the bus, given the commute, so the result will be that less students will work there and therefore more books will remain unprocessed.

    This is so typical of the lack of problem-solving skills of most librarians. Instead of looking for creative solutions, we just throw up our hands and say “Oh well, we’ll just reduce our service.” Unfortunatley, the analytical thinking, process-driven types go into other professions while the meek book lovers become librarians.

  59. Franz Kafka says:

    “Unfortunatley, the analytical thinking, process-driven types go into other professions while the meek book lovers become librarians.” Or the analytical types get sandbagged, or otherwise outed, and move on to another field, in frustration, where they can get something done….

  60. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    The good news, once you do move fields, you do not have to listen to the prattling of the politically inane, unless you want to. Remember we will always be librarians just non practicing.

  61. givemeabreak says:

    Oh my goodness-gwacious! People are attacking each other anonymously here! They’ve criticized “library dude” and even database vendors! They are so vicious and mean and soooo not helping the cause of constructive library discourse!”

    Did I say anything about it being anonymous? No. Did I say it wasn’t constructive? No. My point was the stupidity of repeatedly attacking someone who merely gives a two line opinion by sending several posts wasting everyone else’s time. God, I’m glad I don’t work with you yahoos. I think I’ve discovered the reason most of you can’t find jobs.

  62. sidney says:

    “My point was the stupidity of repeatedly attacking someone who merely gives a two line opinion by sending several posts wasting everyone else’s time.” Are you librarydude posting under another name? Someone repeatedly saying “all you people are sheep because you like this blog” is a stupid waste of time as well. I’m not sure the repeated statement would qualify as an opinion, though. Maybe a grunt. And I, by the way, have a fine job.

  63. Fear and Loathing says:

    “God, I’m glad I don’t work with you yahoos. I think I’ve discovered the reason most of you can’t find jobs.” Thyis assumes the folks commenting don’t have jobs. In this economic climate it may do well for everyone to realize that just about anyone is fair game.

  64. annoyed patron says:

    Do any of you actually enjoy what you do? and I think the EBSCO and ProQuest reps need to get out of this forum. You both suck.

  65. Xrated movie director says:

    I enjoy what I do.

  66. Save Library Jobs says:

    Include Public Libraries in Recovery Funding!

    The House has voted on “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009″ and the Senate is debating this legislation this week. The House and Senate are expected to meet soon and resolve differences on this bill so they can have it on the President’s desk by February 16, 2009.

    Library advocates must be determined in our efforts to ensure that the final bill Congress places on President Obama’s desk includes the resources libraries need to continue delivering the exceptional services the public depends upon.

    In addition to personally reaching out to our representatives in the House and Senate, we must encourage library users of all ages in our communities to speak up for libraries as well. Every day across the country, libraries are consistently meeting the needs of their communities by providing a broad range of services for people of all ages and backgrounds. The library plays a critical role as Americans face tough economic times, as patrons are visiting their library for more than borrowing free books, movies, CDs and attending free reading programs. Libraries offer their communities access to computers and the Internet, financial literacy skills, assistance with job searches, and resources to help small businesses at no cost to them.

  67. Save Library Jobs says:

    Go to the “Take Action” section of the ALA web site. The job you save may be your own, or at least of someone you know. If you can come over here you can at least do this.

  68. AL says:

    If the ALA can “take action” and save any jobs, I might even say something nice about them.

  69. Proudly Anonymous says:

    Why do you think there are Ebsco and Proquest reps in this discussion? I discuss database interfaces on a regular basis since I use them daily on the reference desk in my public library (when I am not weeding, shelving, wiping down tables, being yelled at by drunk patrons, and being chastised by my superiors for not doing more outreach in my lunchtime). Some are better than others. If you have little money to spend, then get the ones that will be most used by the patrons.
    I would have thought that as a patron (albeit an annoyed one) you would be happy to see libraries trying to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak.

  70. Annoyed Observer says:

    This thread has about played out. I’m not sure if library funding made the cut or not in the stimulus bill. It can be taken as a verdict on whether those in political power feel it merited the money, any money.

  71. Librarian says:

    Librarians: Exemplars of “Hope and Change”

  72. Mr. Kat says:

    I read the article on Fresno State’s library and found this quote to be extremely interesting: “Just the fact that students will have a beautiful building to study in, with plenty of outlets, hardwire and wi-fi, with gallery space and other amenities, will be a huge boost to student success.”

    Now correct me if I’m wrong, but in my current place I have been learning about how the modern library is about going “beyond the walls,” so to speak, to reach patrons no matter where the building is. And yet here we see the librarians once again entrenched and embracing the relic that is the building.

    But I stop and rethink everything I know, and here is where I stop and think that perhaps it is the people pushing the “Beyond the walls” line who are indeed the idiots. For let us remember that if there is not a building with the word “Library” plastered on it, and it is not a huge open place that can welcome throngs of people, and it is not a place well known or well liked by the main population, that the Library no longer EXISTS in the minds of the people. And if the entity no longer exists, then there wil lno longe rbe any budget money for that entity!

    So I do see creedence in support of this “new” old argument: A library does not exist in the minds of the people if it does not have a space in which to exist nor attractive amenities to those who seek it out.

    To AL and the rest of the Monday morning quarterstandups, I LOVED the humor. Keep up the excellent work!!

  73. Lucinda says:

    How about all the libraries pooling their money and hiring some lobbyists in Washington….It could work!

  74. Mr. Kat says:

    Lucinda, read “The Octopus” by Frank Norris [1901]. In that novel the farmers decide the best way to solve their problems is to get a couple people like themselves and closely related to themselves elected into office. The result? More lost time, more lost money, more lost ground. We can’t send people to the hill until we know what we’re fighting for – and those people going to the hill won’t represent us unless our cause is truely a cause of the public [and not libraries or librarians].

  75. Stephen Denney says:

    Perhaps closer attention to new editions of books already in the library might be helpful for budget cutting; that is to determine if the newer edition is that much different from the older edition to merit its inclusion. I often find I am cataloging such books.