There is a new trend in this day of cost cutting. (Actually, it's not brand new, but it does have to do with cutting costs.) Public libraries owned by cities and municipalities and formerly funded and operated by the same, are being turned over to private companies to operate. It's all about the bottom line. Theoretically this saves the city or municipality money. This is actually true. The private company looks upon the library as a money pit. This means fewer employees are hired, hours open to the public are cut, book budgets are slashed and the bottom line is a lot lower.
Unfortunately, this does not add up to real public service. A patron told me a story the other day about the library in his daughter's Texas town. It is going to be turned over to a private company to operate. Not only would the hours be cut and the people doing the work be more like clerks than librarians, the actual library administrative work and decision making would be done from the company's office in the east. That meant there would be no librarian on the premises to make purchasing decisions, be familiar with the needs of the public using the library, be acquainted with a single person who entered the building, have any idea if the lighting was adequate, if the books should be shifted, if another book shelf could be fit in to hold more in certain sections, if things like reference books were properly updated or even if the floor was vacuumed and the doors were unlocked on time to let people in.
The patron's daughter had seen what happened to a library in another town close by when it was turned over to a private company. No new materials (books, DVDs, Cd's, etc.) had been purchased for two years. Yes, it was a money saving deal.
Public libraries have traditionally been supported by public money. Yes, they have their business aspects. Bills have to be paid, physical plants (the actual building) have to be kept up, contracts signed, equipment purchased, building codes and federal requirements, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act, have to be met. Patrons are a lot like customers, and librarians have to use the funds at their disposal to serve the largest patron base possible. But there is a lot more to libraries than the business side. There is real public service where trained people familiar with the collection and with computer usage do their best to help others. They may be paid with public funds, but that is appropriate, since they are providing a free public service. If you live in a small town, it is comforting to know who you are going to be dealing with when you go to the library. The librarian does not live in another state. You can actually talk to him/her face to face.
As for the patron's daughter, she has taken her children to the next town and gotten library cards at that public library - because that is what it still is, a real library that serves real people.
- The library has a new AWE Literacy Station geared for children aged 2 to 8 years old. (See post.)
- Book signing for author of "The Adventures of Stinkerpup" Isis Grayling on Saturday, June 3, from 2 - 4 p.m.
- Summer Story Hour "Make A Better World" is coming! Beginning Wednesday, June 14th, this seven week program will continue every Wednesday from 10 - 11 a.m. through July 26th. (See post.)
- The Arthur Johnson Memorial Library Board will hold their next meeting on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting room at the library.
- Are you interested in joining a new Writer's Group? Meetings held on Fridays, at 10:00 a.m. This is for any writer who wishes to meet with other writers. Beginners, experienced, published, unpublished, writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, bloggers - all are welcome.
- Preschool Story Hour is conducted every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. We read books to the children and there is a project every week. It's never too soon to introduce your children to the library!
- Schedule a meeting at the library. Call 445-9711 to get on the calendar in advance. The library stays open until 6:00 P.M., Monday - Saturday, except for Thursday, when it stays open until 9:00 P.M.