This story about the library budget crisis in Miami-Dade County, Florida is quite a read. A librarian formerly employed by the county criticized the library director, who allegedly responded with a “heated monologue” in which he said that without him the library system would be, um, in a bad condition.
Since this is a family blog, you’ll have to read the article to get the actual comment. The director denies it, though.
Not that there isn’t some strangeness going on. Despite losing tens of millions of dollars in funding over several years, the director “signed off on two staffers jetting to Milan in March for a cultural exchange,” which was “paid for by grants and county programming funding.” Nice work if you can get it.
As the offended and critical librarian put it, “I have a problem with that as a taxpayer…if my child doesn’t have a book and they’re sending these people to Europe.”
But it’s probably important for Miami to have a “cultural exchange” with places like Milan. You wouldn’t want to have a cultural exchange with somewhere unpleasant to visit, after all.
The most amusing moment, and the one in which I lost all confidence in the director, was his attempt at a defense. He denies the basis of the complaints and then says, “You realize this is a low-level employee you’re getting information from.”
My eyes widened at that one. It certainly says a lot about the relationships that must exist between the director and his staff, most of whom must be “low-level employees.”
Think about this in context, though. People shouldn’t rely on the information from a low-level employee like a librarian when he complains about the library director. That level of employee, after all, isn’t high enough up the food chain to matter at all.
On the other hand, everyone else in the county is invited to rely upon the information skills of the reference librarians, the same low-level employees. So the attempt to dismiss this complaint by this particular method of character attack ends up smearing the entire reference operation of the county libraries as well.
So we shouldn’t trust information from people trained to find information. That’s an encouraging lesson for a library director to spread.
Another perspective might be that if you get information from people trained to find reliable information, then that information might be reliable.
Maybe not in this situation, and people should be considered innocent until proven guilty, but trying to dismiss complaints because they come from people trained to find information because they’re “low-level” isn’t a very effective way to convince most people.
I’m not convinced, anyway.