Hopefully it’s isolated, but there’s definitely some danger to public libraries out there. Or maybe it’s just in the south, I don’t know.
A couple of weeks ago we looked at Florida, where every other county wants to cut way back on staff and services. Florida didn’t fare too well when the housing bubble burst, so maybe Florida’s just broke.
It’s the county with the second highest median income in the country, and yet has cut its library budget by 23% in the last five years. Now the director has a new strategic plan to save the day.
It seems to involve throwing away lots of books instead of giving them to the Friends of the Library to sell, among other things.
In a story reminiscent of the weeding scandal in Illinois this summer, a county supervisor found a bunch of books in a dumpster.
She “took her box of rescued books to the Fairfax government center, dumped them on a county official’s desk and demanded answers. The next day, Aug. 30, a directive went out to all branches suspending the discarding of books.”
250,000 books destroyed over seven months. That’s over a thousand books a day. No moss growing under their feet!
That’s probably part of their desired transition from a print centered to a digital centered library. Once you toss out all the books, it’s pretty easy to say you aren’t print centered anymore.
Then there’s the potential “Beta Project” the column above complains about.
The “BETA Project” is scheduled to go into effect initially at Reston Regional Library, the system’s largest, and Burke Centre Community Library. The changes include, but are not limited to:
- Drastically reducing the number of staff available to serve library patrons
- Eliminating the requirement for ANY staff member to have a Masters of Library Science (MLS) Degree
- Eliminating children/youth services librarians
That’s a pretty big beta project. And for a beta project, it seems like the kind of thing that would be hard to back away from. Once you’ve reclassified all your librarians as non-professionals and cut their salaries, morale is going straight out the window.
Not that the library would go back. It’s easy to make big cuts, but after a while it’s harder to justify increases. If instead of lobbying for the librarians the solution is to eliminate them, you’ve pretty much shown what you think of librarians.
If you get rid of professional librarians, then no matter how the library is run, there won’t be any people around who have any professional standards by which to judge. That’s got to be good for somebody, but it’s definitely not good for the librarians, and probably not for the patrons either in the long run.