Annoyed Librarian
Search LibraryJournal.com ....
Subscribe to LJ
Inside Annoyed Librarian

Libraries Declining in the Sunshine State

I don’t know much about Florida, other than it’s hot and its occasional voting irregularities cause problems for the rest of the country. From the recent news, I’m also guessing that library funding isn’t a top priority down there.

For example, Miami-Dade County, which at one point had threatened to close 22 of their library branches, is now only going to fire a bunch of people and cut library hours way back. That’s a pretty big county, right? I’m pretty sure it is, because I’ve heard of it.

Things don’t bode well for the future, either. The county library system is currently supported by a tax system separate from the rest of the country.

The mayor claims that “One way for the county to have more flexibility in managing the library budget is to dissolve the stand-alone taxing district that funds it and instead fold it into the general fund.”

That’s probably a good way to have more flexibility to take money apportioned for libraries and spend it elsewhere, but it probably won’t help the libraries any.

It doesn’t stop there. Lee County libraries are also firing people, cutting back hours, buying fewer books, and cancelling the interlibrary loan service. Maybe it’s too hot in Lee County for people to read anyway, because they’re going to have a lot fewer books available.

Then there’s Pasco County, also threatened with library closures.

And Brevard County, which is cutting employee hours so it doesn’t have to fund their health care under the Affordable Care Act. It seems you can’t swing a dead cat in Florida without hitting a county wanting to close libraries or cut staff.

Jacksonville isn’t to be left out, since it’s considering closing a couple of libraries.

I don’t know if Boca Raton is hurting for money, but they’re selling naming rights to their new library. I’m considering doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary $5 million, so that it could be called the Annoyed Librarian Library.

The cuts aren’t just confined to the “people’s university.” The University of South Florida in Tampa is cutting its hours way back. It’s not quite the tragedy it might be, since right now the library is open 24/5. But the 41,000 students on this campus won’t be pulling all nighters in the library anymore.

The students are protesting, of course, because that’s what students do, but student protests are usually about as effective as sitting quietly and drinking a nice cup of tea. Plus, there were only about 30 students at their library sit-in, and you can’t expect a big university to do much for just 30 students.

It’s like the entire state decided supporting libraries at their current standards is just too much trouble. A couple of years ago, the Huffington Post launched a hyperbolic site called Libraries in Crisis. The idea was that libraries all over the country were in danger.

That turned out not to be true, and the mass closings predicted by library Jeremiahs never occurred. Or maybe the Jeremiahs were really just talking about Florida, in which case, maybe they were right.

Share

Comments

  1. Stephen Michael Kellat says:

    I’m not necessarily certain we’re in a new age of “tax revolt” like that seen in the 1970s. A perfect storm of economic uncertainty is in play along with the federal legislature pre-spending state legislature funds via “maintenance of effort” requirements that linger on from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 plus the entry into force of more requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is time to pop some popcorn, so to say. Nobody knows how this will play out in the end.

  2. anonymous says:

    The less educated the public, the easier it is for politicians to enact laws that benefit the 1%. They want us to be ignorant and obedient, what better way than to eliminate the great equalizer, the library?

  3. PeriSoft says:

    “I’m considering doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary $5 million, so that it could be called the Annoyed Librarian Library.”

    I will seriously back that. I’m not even kidding.

  4. Kim says:

    There used to be lots of jobs in the Sunshine state. Miami-Dade came to my school to try to recruit library students because they couldn’t find enough people willing to move to Miami-Dade county. I knew librarians who moved to Florida for the jobs, even to the little town of St. Augustine where there were actually jobs. The economy there at that time was one gigantic housing bubble. Then it burst.

  5. The librariarians are fighting back:

    MAYOR GIMENEZ’S PLAN BEGINS 10/1/2013
    • 49 LIBRARIES ARE PARTIALLY SHUT DOWN (Days & Hours)
    • 169 LIBRARY STAFF OF 440 ARE SCHEDULED TO BE LAID OFF
    • 2 BOOKMOBILES ARE SHUT DOWN

    The one opportunity for a reconsideration vote is at 5:01 on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 at the BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSION’S NEXT MEETING, 111 NW 1 Street.

    THE SOLUTION
    • TWO COMMISSIONERS MUST VOTE TO RAISE THE LIBRARY’S MILLAGE TO .2993 THIS FILLS THE $13 MILLION GAP FOR THE LIBRARY TO STAY INTACT

    LIBRARIES WITHOUT LIBRARIANS ARE NOT LIBRARIES.

    Tonight is the last of six town hall meetings with the Mayor. It’s at the city hall in Florida City at 6:00 pm.

    Or

    Contact the Four Commissioners who might listen to reason:
    district10@miamidade.gov
    305-375-4835
    305-375-3456 Fax
    Commissioner Javier D. Souto
    District 10
    Stephen P. Clark Center
    111 N.W. 1st Street, Suite 320
    Miami, Florida 33128

    Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez
    District 7
    Stephen P. Clark Center
    111 N.W. First Street, Suite 220
    Miami, FL 33128
    District7@miamidade.gov
    District Office
    6130 Sunset Drive
    S. Miami, FL 33143
    305-669-4003
    305-669-4044 Fax

    Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz – more likely
    District 12
    Stephen P. Clark Center
    111 N.W. First Street, Suite 320
    Miami, FL 33128
    District12@miamidade.gov
    District Office
    8345 N.W. 12th St
    Miami, FL 33126
    305-599-1200
    305-470-1791 Fax

    Commissioner Bruno Barreiro – more likely
    District 5
    Stephen P. Clark Center
    111 N.W. 1st Street, Suite 220
    Miami, Florida 33128
    district5@miamidade.gov
    305-375-5924
    305-375-5904

    TWO FREE EVENTS A Celebration of Libraries

    Tuesday, September 3 @ 7:00 pm at the Miami Beach Cinematheque

    Guest speakers and then a showing a screening of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 admission is FREE with a library card.
    Parking: $1 an hour at the garage at 12th Street and Drexel Ave. FREE copies of Ray Bradbury’s classic will be given away to the first 15 arrivals.

    Saturday, September 7 @ 7:00 pm at the Pinecrest Garden’s Banyan Bowl

    Guest speakers and then a showing a screening of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 admission is FREE.

    The events are not fundraisers. We are simply trying to get the word out about the imminent danger to our public libraries, a community resource designed to lift everyone culturally and educationally.

    For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheMiamiDadePublicLibraries

  6. Blanca says:

    In Florida, both Sumter and Osceola Counties have privatized their library systems, giving it up to a private library company, LSSI. This, after cutting the budget of the library system by lowering the millage rate every year until the library system became unsustainable and branches had to be closed, staff fired. That is the same pattern Miami Dade County has been following these past few years. Is privatization next? Would be nice to know the end-game.

  7. Flipper says:

    Yikes. But at least Florida librarians can rest easy knowing there are lucrative job opportunities like this one:

    http://www.dolphins.org/career_opportunities

    Dolphin Research Center (DRC) is seeking an enthusiastic individual with a master’s degree (bachelor’s degree a minimum) in library/information sciences/studies to head our collegiate library.

    Responsibilities:

    This position will be responsible for:

    Maintaining and updating the organization’s library, which includes books, electronic and hard copy journal publications, educational and research documents, audiovisual, and other materials.
    Assisting our scientists, faculty and college students with literature searches and information composition as well as the use of library information resources, rules and services.
    Keeping DRC up to date in current instructional technology trends and training staff members to use current and future instructional technology at DRC.
    May include various administrative responsibilities to help other areas of Dolphin Research Center, including college admissions, licensing and accreditation, as well as grant work.
    This is a full-time position. Salary of $25K/Year. Salary not negotiable.
    Qualifications:

    Qualified individuals will not only hold a degree in library/information sciences/studies, but also be familiar with current trends in library practices, technologies and procedures.
    Additionally, applicants should have experience at applying for/writing grants and effectively seeing them to completion.
    The successful candidate will be outgoing, love helping people succeed, have a passion to share their knowledge with our staff and students and be excited about DRC and our family of dolphins and sea lions.
    Essential traits for employment include the ability to be responsible, organized, motivated, self-directed and an excellent “team player”.
    Flexibility in the work environment and in job responsibilities is a must as this position will include other administrative responsibilities that support the corporation.

  8. ILL says:

    When I used to work in ILL, I specifically requested from Lee County often — they had fast shipments, and would lend out newer titles that you couldn’t get from other libraries.

  9. c says:

    Congrats on the last minute hail Mary!

  10. Margaret Barthe says:

    USF library hours reinstated last week.