Nearly everyone has been hit by the depression our economy is currently experiencing, whether with our own jobs or with the jobs of our friends and family. Nearly every type of business is affected by it…including libraries.
Those who are not in the field may not realize that Ohio libraries have consistently been considered the best in the nation. But even the best have issues with funding on good days. As we all know…these are not good days.
Recently I attended a meeting with colleagues from around the state. Of the dozen or so library systems represented, I think my system was the only one that has not encountered layoffs, reduction in hours or branch closings…yet. In fact, one person drove the two or three hours to this meeting (in the library van, even) knowing that his system was going to layoff 15 people that morning…but not sure if he would be one of those left without a job. Thankfully – for him, at least – he received a text message that, while there were layoffs, he still has a job (for now).
This is becoming typical news. The websites that once listed a dozen or two job openings across the state now only list two or three. Some smaller libraries may not make it through, either being absorbed by larger systems or closing completely.
You are probably saying, “So? What’s the big deal? This is happening everywhere.”
And you would be right. It is happening everywhere.
But…statistics are showing that public libraries are busier than ever. People are coming to us to check out more books, movies, magazines, etc. than they have in years. People are coming to us to use our computers and our internet – because they can no longer afford to pay for the ‘net at home. They still have to look for jobs online, or even file unemployment, as so many government departments have closed their local offices.
People are using the public library more than ever. They are realizing that we have many of the resources they need – the information they require in these tough times. They are relying on us to fulfill some of their needs.
But, we can’t afford to be there for them.
So, to end my rant, please remember to support us so we can support you. Times are tough everywhere…even in the safe haven called the public library.
How can you support the library?
- Volunteer – it helps the library and looks great on a resume!
- Join the Friends group
- Give donations (book donations are great – if they are in excellent condition)
- Campaign and vote for levies. Yes, your taxes will rise…but rarely by more than a few dollars.
- Call and ask – “What kind of help can I give you?”