or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Doing Less, With Less

   February 5th, 2009

Cutting MoneyEconomy...bailout...economic stimulus...TARP...blah blah blah...

All of this becomes more than background noise when you find out that your library's budget is being cut and people are losing their jobs.

Sadly, this is happening at my library. Because of decreased Town revenues and less financial aid from the state, the Chelmsford Library has had to reduce hours at our branch, lay off three people, and not replace four others who have left since last summer.

Sadlier, reduced staff also means reduced services. We're protecting core functions like our materials budget, but programs like our One-on-One computer training will have to be cut back or eliminated because we just don't have enough staff to offer them.

And these are just the things we have control over. What we can't control is that this was a disproportionate budget cut - meaning the library's budget was cut more than other Town departments. Because of this (in Massachusetts), there is a very real chance the Chelmsford Library will be decertified, which means we'll also lose the ability to provide interlibrary loan service to our patrons.

This isn't set in stone yet, and there is a possibility of getting a waiver, but when it comes to core library functions, interlibrary loan is right near the top. Especially in Chelmsford, which has the highest circulation of any library in our consortium.

I know it's corny, but I have always liked this Anne Herbert quote:

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

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4 Responses to “Doing Less, With Less”

  1. laura Says:

    That stinks — especially since I would guess that the one-on-one computer training is something that people will need even more as they struggle to find jobs. And losing interlibrary loan capabilities would be a terrible blow. Sorry to hear about all of it!

  2. SOL Part 2 « The Geeky Librarian Says:

    […] Part 2 More bad news today, Brian Herzog, the premiere library blogger in Mass., reports that budget cuts at his library in Chelmsford may […]

  3. Hollis Says:

    You have my sympathies for the budget nightmare. I really fail to see how the people in city governments can be so very shortsighted. The posibility of losing certification should have everyone up in arms, especially the library board.

  4. Marissa Says:

    This is happening across the board, and it’s hard. As soon as circulation goes up and libraries are needed, budgets get cut. It’s happening here in Wilton, CT where I work. There are fewer books coming in, so the tech services staff is losing hours. We’re able to reappropriate some of them to the circ desk or shelving, but it’s tough. And with circ up, so many materials are coming back, but the book carts are backed up because we don’t have any more shelvers.