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First and foremost there was Andrew Carnegie. Now, there's the New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwartzman Building where a centennial was recently celebrated. And many, many others...some of whom have pretty funny names.
For a bit of mid-week levity, here's a New Yorker piece about the phenomenon of naming libraries after their generous benefactors:
The Queens County-Abilify Library Museum and Center for the Performing Arts has been unusually blessed with financial angels who shelter us under their collective wing, and we wish to take a moment to recognize them here. Like most cultural institutions of its kind, the Q.C.-A.L.M. & C.P.A. literally would be unable to function without the kindness and generosity of our donors. To put it plainly, we owe them our lives. The sad part, however, is that although visitors to our facility see the names of these individuals gracing our walls, door lintels, exit signs, and other flat surfaces, they don’t know, and rarely stop to inquire, who these wonderful people are. For that regrettable ignorance the following is a small attempt at a remedy.
Read more in this week's New Yorker.
The image is entitled "“The Library: Roaring Into the Future” by Eric Drooker and it depicts the two famous lions, Patience and Fortitude, protecting the entry to the Main Building of the New York Public Library (the Stephen A. Schwartzman building) currently celebrating its hundredth birthday.
Beautiful, but gloomy. Is this what the future holds for public libraries, all libraries?
More from the New Yorker (there is no accompanying article.)
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program was zeroed out under the Department of Education’s allocation for FY2011 funding (PDF), released today.
Improving Literacy Through School Libraries is the only federal program solely for our nation’s school libraries. This program supports local education agencies in improving reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school libraries; and professionally certified school librarians.
“This decision shows that school libraries have been abandoned by President Obama and the Department of Education,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office, said.
“The Department has withdrawn funding for numerous successful literacy programs in order to launch new initiatives to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math education. Apparently, what the Department of Education fails to realize is that the literacy and research skills students develop through an effective school library program are the very building blocks of STEM education. Withdrawing support from this crucial area of education is an astounding misstep by an Administration that purports to be a champion of education reform.” -- Read More
Cleveland.com brings word of eight library levy successes during the 2011 Primary election round in Ohio. Congratulations to those districts on their electoral success.
McClatchy DC discusses how cuts have affected libraries in various parts of the country.
From the article: "After spurring a surge in public library use nationwide, the tough economy is forcing many branches to cut staff, hours and programming right when many cash-strapped people need them most.
As in previous downturns, Americans turned to their libraries during the Great Recession for free children's programming or to borrow books, movies and music. In 2008, when the economy was in freefall, a record 68 percent of Americans had a library card, and library visits and borrowing spiked as well.
However, a whopping 72 percent of public libraries reported budget cuts this year; 43 percent cut staff as well, according to a recent survey by the Library Journal.
While public libraries rely overwhelmingly on local tax dollars, 19 states cut public library funding this year, and 17 reported library closures, a new American Library Association survey found.
Big-city libraries have been hit hardest. Among those with more than a million annual visitors, roughly 9 in 10 cut budgets and staff. System-wide cuts in their operating hours, on average, amounted to two branch closings, the journal survey found. -- Read More
Elegy for librarians: After all the budget cutting's done, who'll be around to help us ask the sharper questions?
If librarians seem distracted these days, you can't blame them. They're worried that they'll lose jobs. As cities, counties, public schools and universities all grapple with recessionary budget cuts, libraries look like low-hanging fruit. In this iEverything age, the thinking goes, books are musty relics. And without books, who needs librarians? The truth is that we've never needed them more
[Thanks to Gary for the link!]
I'd like to take this time to put forward a grand unifying theory of libraries:
Librarians are not unified.
I was reading a discussion of at the Annoyed Librarian and some librarians continue to follow the dream of believing in a world where all librarians share the common goals of service to the customer, preservation of materials, intellectual freedom and open access to information.
And they are completely and totally wrong.
The primary goal of a librarian is to be a librarian. And that means getting paid to do it.
If you're not getting paid to be a librarian, then you're not a librarian. You might have a degree, but currently you're a barista. Or a teacher. Or a consultant.
But your number one goal is to get a regular paycheck.
And that is the dilemma.
Because to earn that paycheck, you have two main avenues of service: the private sector or the public sector. And that is where the problem exists.
The goals of the private sector are almost completely antipodal to the goals of the public sector. Since the public sector relies on public monies, or taxes, that are paid by the private sector, there's almost a perpetual battle to divide those assets. Because the private sector would prefer to pay less in taxes while the public sector would benefit from more being collected. And as one side grows stronger, the other tends to weaken.
From where does the money come? -- Read More
The Ohio Library Council has a breakdown posted concerning Ohio Governor John Kasich's 2012-2013 biennium budget. Public libraries are looking at a 5% cut in state-level funding. Compared to libraries, WJW in Cleveland reports townships and municipalities were hit in the budget with a 25% cut in Local Government Fund dollars in 2012 and a 50% cut of such funds in 2013. Columbus-based Ohio News Network also reports on the budget that other proposals include capping tuition, creating three-year bachelor's degree programs, and increasing funding for K-12 education.
This is excellently summarized, regarding many states' budget struggles, not overly long.
Maine Librarian's Pointed Budget Message Hits the Mark
From the LA Times:
Voters passed Measure L, which would set aside a greater share of property tax revenue for the city's cash-strapped library system. That measure was backed by library advocates but opposed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which feared the measure would result in budget cuts to public safety.
More on Measure L.