30 posts in 30 days #4: Librarians on the radio

Last week I listened to an episode of The Diane Rhem Show titled “The Changing Role of Public Libraries” which featured Sari Feldman, executive director, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library; president, Public Library Association, John Hill, president of the D.C. Public Libraries Board of Trustees; CEO of the Federal City Council and Camila Alire, president, American Library Association.

While the show was well done, and informative, by the end I kept thinking that there was something missing. The panelists talked about “branches” closing, and budgets being cut, and their library’s unionized workforce, I kept thinking that almost none of that applied to the vast majority of libraries here in Nebraska.

In Nebraska (and also in Iowa and maybe in other states) almost all public libraries are local institutions in single buildings without any branches at all. Forget unions, in many cases the library is lucky if the librarian has an MLS. There are annual book budgets out there that can be measured in the hundreds of dollars.

I’m all for national exposure of the problem, but how about some representation from the little libraries that have been struggling all along next time?

One Reply to “30 posts in 30 days #4: Librarians on the radio”

  1. You are on target about the vast differences between libraries in (most likely) urban areas, with branches and unionized workforces. Until coming to California, I did not realize how heavily unionized library staff can be. And it can be detrimental when it comes time to make well-informed budget cuts. In one library here in the greater Los Angeles area, the union voted against foregoing a scheduled pay increase. As a result, the city and library management team had to cut staff’s hours from 40 to 36. The result was a greater pay cut than if they had agreed to bypass their scheduled pay raise.

    At the same time, I work with libraries where there is only one “professional” on staff and everyone else is probably a part-timer. Yet they are facing the same issue: budget reductions. They may not be dealing with unions or branch schedules, but they have issues and those should be addressed at the national level.

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